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Council forces bidders to use local workers

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KENT COUNTY Council is to force ontractors tendering for a lucrative £60M a year term maintenance deal to subcontract work to local firms.

Contractors must also provide on-site training for local people.

The move is designed to boost the local skills base as Kent suffers from high nemployment. It is also intended to tackle the growing skills shortage in the overheated south east construction market.

The contract goes out to tender next month. The current deal has been worth about £40M per year to incumbent term maintenance contractor Ringway, and includes all projects under £100,000.

The new deal will run for up to 10 years and will be worth up to £60M per year. The £100,000 maximum value threshold could also be raised.

Kent hopes to introduce the initiative across its capital projects programme.

'We've got a £350M capital programme next year, largely made up of new schools and new roads, ' said KCC strategic planning director Peter Raine.

'The real downside of this is having a mass of imported labour dumped on you, destabilising the local community. These schemes need to be built by local people.' Raine expects the initiative to drive up tender prices in the short-term. 'But in the long-term we will have a skilled and available workforce, ' he said.

A website will point tenderers to exemplar projects and techniques to address skills gaps and tackle social exclusion through construction.

It will also highlight availability of training through organisations like the skills council and further education colleges.

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