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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 16:44 GMT
Major schools scheme moves closer
Berwickshire High School artist's impression
The new Berwickshire High would be opposite the old school
A 60m project to construct three new high schools in the Borders has taken a major step forward.

Scottish Borders Council selected the Scottish Borders Education Partnership (SBEP) as its preferred bidder to finance, design and build the schools.

The 3HS Project will see construction at Duns, Earlston and Eyemouth to replace old high school buildings.

A spokesman for the council said the plans would provide "three superb schools" for the region.

In Duns the new Berwickshire High School site is opposite the existing school while in Eyemouth it is proposed to move the location to Gunsgreen.

The preferred site in Earlston is at Georgefield Farm although the current school location is still being considered.

Earlston High School artist's impression
A final decision is awaited on the location at Earlston

Depute council leader Michael Cook, who represents Eyemouth, hailed the scheme as an "exciting and ambitious project" which would "inspire and motivate generations of pupils to come".

The authority's education director Glenn Rodger said the choice of preferred bidder had been difficult but was agreed unanimously.

"SBEP met every aspect of a very detailed specification and translated this into schools of ambition and excellence," he said.

In welcoming the announcement, the council's joint education spokesperson councillor Valerie Robson said the authority would aim to avoid the errors of other Public Private Partnerships.

"PPP has, at times, had a bad press, but we have taken steps throughout the project to learn lessons from the mistakes of the early PPP pioneers," she said.

Eyemouth High School artist's impression
Eyemouth High School is proposed to switch to Gunsgreen

"I am confident that, in taking this forward, the council is creating a valuable legacy for the future."

SBEP is led by international construction company Bilfinger Berget BOT Ltd.

The other partners are building contractor John Graham, Amey Business Services and 3D Architects.

The next step for the project is to reach final agreement on contract issues.

If that can be agreed it is hoped the new schools could open by August 2008.

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