Northern Ireland

Desertcreat police, fire and prison college: Preferred bidder has not withdrawn tender

overview of practical training area Image copyright Department of the Environment
Image caption The facility would include a practical training area for the emergency services

Justice Minister David Ford has said the preferred bidder has not withdrawn its tender for the Desertcreat Police and Fire Training College.

The minister said he remained committed to getting the training college in place.

Last week, MLAs called for his department to respond following media reports a contractor had pulled out of the project.

Mr Ford said £20m had been taken out of the original costings.

He added that he did not believe this would have a negative impact on the functionality of the college.

The minister said discussions about the tender were continuing, but he could not provide any detail because of commercial sensitivities.

The £130m facility at Desertcreat, near Cookstown, County Tyrone, will be one of the biggest construction projects in Northern Ireland.

In December, it was announced that the college would be built by a consortium comprising of Belfast company Gilbert Ash and Spanish firm FCC, with the final cost agreed over the following months.

Work was scheduled to begin in the spring, subject to final contract approval by the Northern Ireland Executive.

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