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CIWEM denies being in competition with members

CONSULTING ENGINEERS were this week putting pressure on the Chartered Institute of Water & Environmental Management to clarify its decision to establish its own consultancy business.

But the new business countered with repeated claims that it would not compete, but would complement services supplied by members. It added that it would review the new business in mid-2000, and invited interested parties to comment.

CIWEM and consultant De Leuw Rothwell set up CIWEM Consulting to pick up work from enquiries received from clients (News last week).

The venture will take a 5% fee for taking on the work, most of which will be subcontracted to CIWEM members who register to work with CIWEM Consulting.

But Association of Consulting Engineers chief executive Nicholas Bennett this week said he had written to the Institute expressing concern about the venture.

Other CIWEM member firms including consultant WS Atkins have also written to complain.

Previously CIWEM has acted as an intermediary, putting clients seeking advice about water and environmental work in touch with consultants. The new venture will effectively take on this work, and charge a fee for procuring and organising teams of consultants.

WS Atkins Water director Colin Fenn said: 'We as a company are writing to CIWEM to register our disapproval.' He added that he was also writing as an individual member after receiving calls from other consultancies expressing concern.

Fenn pointed out that consultants working for the new venture would face a 5% cut in fees as this would be creamed off by CIWEM Consulting.

But CIWEM Consulting business development director Ian Bentley denied that the venture would compete with CIWEM members. 'CIWEM exists for its members and won't function without its membership. We would never seek to go into open competition with the bulk of members,' he said.

Bentley said that CIWEM would still operate a free referrals process for large scale and specialised work. But he said the firm would offer clients project management and procurement services for small scale, multidisciplinary work probably worth less than £100,000.

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