Construction Industry Council to set up elite forum to give QSs, architects and engineers more say in government policy-making.
The Construction Industry Council is to set up a major consultants group to give a greater voice to architects, engineers and QSs.

CIC chief executive Graham Watts said discussions have taken place between the CIC and leading consultants, including Davis Langdon & Everest senior partner Paul Morrell and representatives from leading multidisciplinary practice Ove Arup.

Watts said: "The idea is that the group would be a consultants' equivalent to the Major Contractors Group and the Construction Round Table."

He added: "Nothing exists at the moment for multidisciplinary consultants. The group would provide a conduit for major consultants into the CIC and then, in turn, into government. It would not involve regular business meetings but it would enable consultants to have an informal interface with government representatives.

"At the CIC, we have an incredibly broad range of members but many senior figures in consulting are too busy to get involved in all the groups that represent the industry."

The criteria for membership have yet to be decided, and Watts said the CIC was open to suggestions. "Membership could be based on the number of employees a company has, or a firm's turnover. It could even be based on the reputation of the company."

Watts added that the criteria could also vary from discipline to discipline. "We may decide on one criterion for architects and another for quantity surveyors; it is open at the moment."

Roger Wort, director of leading QS Faithful & Gould said he welcomed the proposal in principle. "Consultants do need a voice," he said, "The industry is undergoing massive changes at the moment. Different methods of procurement put contractors in a higher position and there is a danger that the voice of consultants could be lost.

"Industry bodies have not always represented their members well and that has led to consultants having a lower profile in some areas than they should."

RIBA president Marco Goldschmied also welcomed the proposal, but the director of one engineering practice was more sceptical. "Just what we need, another construction trade association."

But Watts countered: "We don't want another trade association. What we are talking about is a forum that would enable the chairmen of the top 20 consultants to consult with government and others. I think it is important to have a means by which we can interface with others. We need a separate way of involving consultants in the wider industry."