MINISTERS have seen off a legal challenge that saw road maintenance contracts worth up to £700 million put on hold.

A bid by construction firm Amey to halt the signing of a contract with rival company Bear to maintain more than 800 miles of trunk roads in north-west Scotland has been rejected by the Court of Session.

The ruling, due to be published today, will also clear the way for TranServ to take over maintenance of 443 miles of trunk roads and motorways in the south-west of Scotland.

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Both firms were given until today to accept the revised contracts, which will run for either five or 10 years from April 1.

It is not known what, if any, compensation they will be offered for the delay, which means they will not have the usual six-month "mobilisation" period

Amey's bid for the north-west contract was rejected after it offered to do "hundreds of jobs" for just 1p.

Neither side commented when contacted by The Herald yesterday.