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Kier set to win chase for motorcycle test centres

CONTRACTS DRIVING STANDARDS AGENCY

KIER is in pole position to beat its competitors in the race to build a series of motorcycle test centres across the country.

The £60 million framework deal involves constructing up to 75 test centres for the Driving Standards Agency.The contract will last four years.

The centres are required for a new practical motorcycle test, which is being introduced under European laws, as well as a practical moped test and some car driver testing.

The DSA's chief driving examiner Robin Cummins said: 'We need to make sure we get full benefit for our investment, so it stands to reason we should use the sites for testing drivers as well as motorcyclists.

'Two of the new manoeuvres for the bikers involve speeds of over 30 miles an hour and we did not feel it would be safe to carry them out on public roads.'

Among the contractors that have been left eating Kier's dust are Mowlem, Mansell, Bluestone and McNicholas Plc.

One bidder, who expects to be defeated, said: 'It was always likely that one of the big companies with a national capacity was going to win it.'

The deal has been broken down into five sections - Scotland; the North; Wales and the West; London and the south-east;

and Midlands and the East.Kier is thought to have scooped the lot.

A project source said: 'We are negotiating with our preferred contractor and should be done in three or four weeks.'

The winner is due to be announced this month but those that missed out have not yet been officially informed.

The DSA has already identified 60 possible locations and has instructed property consultant Lambert Smith Hampton to acquire plots of land between 0.8 and 1.0 ha.

The centres will be built at sites designed to ensure that candidates are no more than 20 miles or 30 to 45 minutes away from their nearest testing centre.

Work on the first centres was due to start this month but the timetable has slipped. But the centres should all still be fully open by 2008, when the new motorcycle manoeuvres are required to be tested.

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