TENDER FOR COLLEGE TO GO EUROPE-WIDE

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TENDERING for the Desertcreat College would be Europe-wide, according to Justice Minister David Ford.

However he expected the new college to provide a ‘significant’ employment boost for Mid Ulster.

Mr Ford, who spent part of Tuesday afternoon touring the site near Cookstown, said his department was still working on the business case which is ‘extensive and detailed’

However while he said it was taking some time to go through, he hoped to be passing the business plan to the Department of Finance very soon.

“Given the complexity it will take time to go through,” he said.

Additional money was given to cover the Fire and Rescue services part of the college as part of the budget process.

Mr Ford said when the business case is approved the project will go out to tender which would be a europe-wide process.

“It will be one very significant contract in construction terms,” he said.

Mr Ford said he hoped local firms would get it but insisted the department would have to get the best tender price.

He said there were certain things they could build into the contract that some staff are taken from the long term unemployed. It could mean 50 or 60 apprenticeships or long term unemployed getting jobs.

“In a district like Cookstown I think that would be very significant,” he said.

“I would hope there would be a lot of local sourcing,” said Mr Ford adding that regardless of who wins the contract the great bulk of the work would go to the local area.

“I am expecting that it would be a significant employment boost for mid Ulster. Even if the bid is won by a firm from Germany they would still be employing a great bulk of the workforce locally,” said Mr Ford, adding that much of the materials for the college would be sourced locally as well,” said the minister.

“It was very interesting to visit the site for the new public services training college. It is important that our emergency services and prison personnel have access to the best possible training facilities and educational campus to equip officers effectively for the very real challenges they face in serving the community.”

The procurement process, including tendering, can begin once the DFP approval has been obtained. The tendering process is expected to begin in early 2012 and construction to be finished by March 2015.