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Who gets to work in MY county
#1
Saw this recently...

Quote:The County Council?s Historic Environment Team neither maintains nor provides an approved list of recommended archaeological contractors for distribution to clients in Cambridgeshire, referring them instead to the list of Registered Organisations prepared by the Institute for Archaeologists.

However, all organisations that have not worked in the County before, regardless of their RO status, are required to provide assurances regarding their professional competence and financial viability by providing information as set out below.

Now do correct me if I am wrong, but by providing information about a single list ( the IfA RO SCheme ) that is tantamount to providing a recommended list

and the other one is the list of requirements for a company to be allowed to work for a developer. Surely the Council has no right to say who a developer can and cannot employ?

Quote:? ... must be undertaken by an archaeological team of recognised fully experienced in work of this character and formally acknowledged Archaeology Officers, advisors to the Local Planning Authority ...?

Formal acknowledgement usually took the form of three or four previous reports (which was funny anyway, as often you had no reports until you carried out your first job, which was tricky as you had no reports) --- though I would have expected to see some sort of previous reporting as the individual or individuals climbed the ladder of other companies.

I would not expect a financial background check on the company either.

So if I want to work in the county... seems I have to undergo a full vetting by the Council and even then, RO status would be seen as the only list of archaeologists you need. ( Yellow Pages? BAJR Contractor List? )

Is it legal? Is it challengeable as a restriction of trade? Do the council restrict architects and surveyors? builders and plumbers in the same way? If a development is allowed does the planning condition stipulate membership of the Bricklayers Federation as a requirement?

Hmmmm sniffffff smells fishy... but would like clarification
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#2
Any figures on how many of their staff are/are not IfA members? - funnily enough I don't have an up to date handbook
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#3
I thought this was pretty standard fare - although I'm not sure about the financial stuff. What are they going to look at? Your previous accounts? That would tell you approximately**** all without knowing what the cash flow was like (good luck with that, since there is no documentation officially required for that). It's the same problem in a lot of places, lists that 'aren't recommendations' but you have to meet certain criteria to get on, so that would be a recommendation then! Remove all county lists, they are a waste of time and actually do more harm than good.
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#4
RedEarth Wrote:I'm not sure about the financial stuff. What are they going to look at? Your previous accounts?

They're taking tip from construction industry, pretty standard fare them wanting to know that their contractors have the financial wherewithal to complete the job, we get asked all the time by clients to supply that level of assurance/proof. Presumably the Heritage Section also want assurances that archaeological contractors are able to complete projects, actually it would be good if it was standard practice, would get shot of some of the fly-by-night operators and discourage the smaller outfits from taking on jobs beyond their capacity (don't get me wrong, have nothing against small outfits).
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#5
Hmm, possibly written in the light of a bad experience. Not sure about the financial check. But I don't think it's unreasonable for county to seek assurance that archaeology's not at risk from shoddy practice by confirming credentials. It doesn't help anybody if a particular contractor is proposed who clearly doesn't have the capacity/specialism/whatever and the curator says nothing, only to cause a stink later on.
As regards legality, I think because it's simply provision of information - 'this list exists that is compiled by the professional body' - rather than specific recommendation, it's in the clear. Of course, it depends how it's phrased when the advice is given...
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#6
Thanks people.

in general the check about competence was fine. standard stuff as they say. I was interested in the financial request. And Dino has a good point. though I am considering a new job, where I could take on the evaluation - but if I found major archaeology I would not have the resources.. so do I a) go for it anyway and hope I don't find anything... b) don't go for it, and only take on tiny jobs... c) go for it, with an understanding that if it goes to full excavation then it will go to a larger company. :face-huh:

This is now the conundrum again...

We all seem to agree that a tightening in commercial control is needed. but what that is is a a patchwork and county based pick-and-mix. Should the IfA RO list be seen as the only verified list - well it could be convincingly argued that it is ---- or is there another way to verify competence with a county? If this is the case, perhaps the requirements hinted at above should be codified and used in every location in the UK. Then I don't have to meet each counties requirements.

I am still uncomfortable that a county archaeologist can demand financial details -

Appreciate the relies
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#7
From my council days, I do seem to remember that a financial check was part of the routine package before signing a contract. Don't want to get part way through the work and find the company's collapsed or is defaulting on payments to sub-contractors and bringing the Council into disrepute (no matter who is hired, the public will always see "The Council" getting it wrong). It was seen as part of legal Due Diligence to protect Council Tax payers' money and services.

The standard measure of quality was also routine. In my case with IT, it would be something like Microsoft certification if we were looking to buy in a series of PC software training courses. It did mean that I had to automatically discount a number of smaller companies which I was sure could do the job. However under the EC tendering regs I used at the time (not guaranteed to be the same now), all organisations had to provide some kind of proof that they were up to the job and in order to level the playing field, the same proof had to be supplied by all. In reality, the "levelling" process actually knocked out some legitimate candidates (in my view). I seem to remember raising this with Legal and being told that the discounted companies could go through the appeals process. However, this would involve them getting legal representation - ultimately they'd probably lose and the action would cost them more than getting the required certification that would allow them to be considered in future.

I have similar reservations about using the IfA RO list as a measure, but it's not much different to a commercial organisation providing certification which is effectively bought and paid for - you just have to sit through a few days of training. Unless there's some kind of chartered body providing accreditation which is accepted as industry-standard (and would still cost money to obtain), the council just has to go for what appears to be the next best thing.

There will inevitably be a patchwork effect, as - if the above still holds true - each Council is free to specify the quality measure they use for each job, contract or tender.
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#8
Basically it means they're operating a county list - if you're not on it you can't work which means a developer cannot choose who they want.

Quote:neither maintains nor provides an approved list of recommended archaeological
contractors for distribution to clients in Cambridgeshire, referring them
instead to the list of Registered Organisations prepared by the Institute for
Archaeologists.

But you are maintaining a list if a unit has to provide info and be formally acknowledged as competent. What you're saying is its a secret and the client has to guess and try to find one on your list, perhaps by using the IFA. Why can't you just bloody give out the list of those you've approved? - because its probably illegal.... and so therefore the whole requirement to be approved is as well.

In short it needs a legal challenge to see if it can be upheld or not. If a legal challenge upheld this then fine, all the local gov curators could then sit down and thrash out a set of universal principles for us all to sign up to. This could be done by units independently, by creating one or more new regulatory bodies to replace the IFA or they could just say sod it, we're going to use the IFA and we are all forced to become RO's. The problem at the moment is the patchwork approach, you can work quite happily for one set of curators and meet their every peculiar whim - and because of that when you try to cross the border the next lot don't like your history or style and ban you. Thats whats needing a challenge, the lack of consistency.

As regards finding a contractor without access to their list - really all reference to IFA should be taken out, unless other examples of ways to find contractors are given, particularly as they later state that being an RO is irrelevant - you just have to pass their test. Actually what they're saying is that being an RO is pointless - they still don't trust you or the IFA as a body able to uphold/enforce standards and you must meet their own criteria/pass their test. Anyone know of an RO which has been blocked from working by not meeting a county mounties test?

I can see an argument for the financial check, obviously you don't want a sites publication screwed because a company goes bust. However its pointless, what happens if the client goes under a few months down the line - no archaeology unit is going to continue post-exc with no client left to pay or does everybody else get everything paid up front? While a planning condition won't be cleared until the archaeologys signed off, which does mean if a development site is sold on by a bankrupt client then the buyer is presumably assuming liability for publication etc, its no guarantee. I know of at least one major excavation site, sitting derelict a decade on with the publication in limbo, through no fault of the archaeological unit.

And are you really telling me that any unit anywhere can guarantee their financial health/future for more than a few months? I'd be surprised if theres any unit anywhere sitting on top of a big pile of cash in the bank rather than working using a maxed out overdraft and forever teetering on the brink.
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#9
differentcolourmud Wrote:Basically it means they're operating a county list - if you're not on it you can't work which means a developer cannot choose who they want.

I don't think that's what they're saying - they're saying that they don't maintain a list, and that if a developer asks them how to find a contractor, they'll refer him or her to the IfA list of registered organisations. If the developer wants to use a contractor that's not on the RO list, that's still OK, but Cambridgeshire reserves the right to ask for details of previous work, to ensure that the company concerned is up to the job. I'd imagine that there will be several non-RO contractors who work in Cambridgeshire on a regular basis that don't have to prove their bona fides for every job, because the Council will be aware of their previous work, so it'd only really be an issue for a contractor wanting to work in the area for the first time.

As I said on a previous thread, I'd be opposed to a Council saying that only ROs were unable to undertake work in their area, as I don't believe that this would be legal, but (to me, anyway) that doesn't seem to be what Cambridgeshire are doing here.
You know Marcus. He once got lost in his own museum
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#10
differentcolourmud Wrote:I can see an argument for the financial check, obviously you don't want a sites publication screwed because a company goes bust.


Shame nothing can apparently be done regarding developers going bust and therefore resulting in the publication being screwed. How many million times has that happened? If they are going to maintain lists, why not also a list of developers who have the financial clout to see the project through to the end? And a list of ones who are known to have evaded their responsibilities in the past.
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