Peterborough City Council and Consultants Part Three – for research purposes only

The relationship between Peterborough City Council and consultants is becoming a cause for concern for some councillors. This page examines the latest announcements.

Continued from Part Two

The following documents all dated 20 October 2009 are in the public domain:

1. Peterborough regulates spend on consultants. Link
2. Realising the benefits of business transformation. Link
3. Creating a value-adding human resources service. Link
4. Transforming the way we work to cut cost and improve performance: . Link


In 2008 Peterborough City Council established a professional services partnership (PSP), to consolidate and regulate its spending on consultancy.
Consultants “landed and expanded”, often taking roles that should be filled internally.
Consultancy was poorly and often non-compliantly procured.
Contracts were unsatisfactory or non-existent; relationships tended to be very fragmented.
Consultants were difficult to control and performance management was generally weak.
No central monitoring of expenditure or value-for-money.

Things were dire in 2008. Although note the following account:

After achieving £3.2 million of savings in 2006/07, Peterborough City Council had a further £20.8 million of cumulative savings to deliver. With over 70 individual projects the council introduced rigorous performance monitoring and clear project ownership responsibilities to ensure delivery of anticipated financial benefits from new, more efficient operational practices.
The Challenge:

As the transformation programme grew and gained pace, it became impractical to manage project ownership and performance using spreadsheets and emails. Failure to achieve project deadlines could damage performance in connected operations and jeopardise the delivery of strategic objectives and financial targets.
There was a need for one central place where project teams, stakeholders and senior management could get a clear overview of the
whole business transformation programme.
The Solution:
Peterborough City Council appointed AMTEC Consulting plc and its delivery partner, V4 Services Ltd, who worked
with TMI Systems Ltd to develop a web-based application for programme and project management reporting.

AMTEC and V4 and TMI were appointed in 2008?

The HR team was large with a hierarchical structure and many specialist roles.
Identifying the need for a proven track-record in local government service transformation and efficiency, Peterborough City Council, via the OGC catalist framework, appointed AMTEC Consulting plc and its delivery partner, V4 Services Ltd, to create and drive its wide-ranging transformation programme.
In 2009/10 £470,000 annualised savings achieved and reinvested into the corporate leadership programme.

This appears to suggest that the department was overstaffed and they sacked some people, saving on their wages. Corrections welcome. Note this document is dated as created in 2009. These would be projected savings.

Peterborough has benefited from an increasing return on its investment. By establishing an ‘invest to save’ fund the council is now saving more than £3 for every pound spent and this saving is repeatable each and every year. The model, takes cost in one year and delivers savings in perpetuity. The demonstrable return on investment enables the programme to drive real and sustainable change.
The council has achieved £23.1 million of cumulative savings over three years.

When is this?

One problem with these documents is that none of them appear to be dated on the face. According to the “Document information” they were all created on the same date in 2009.
This could be an administrative phenomenon. Suggestion: perhaps they were all updated by the server for an unexplained reason and inherit their creation date from that event.

Identifying the need for a proven track-record in local government service transformation and efficiency, Peterborough City Council, via the OGC catalist framework, appointed AMTEC Consulting plc and its delivery partner, V4 Services Ltd, to create and drive its wide-ranging transformation programme.

AMTEC have a track record. V4 and TMI do not appear to have a history in this work prior to their involvement with Peterborough City Council. Corrections welcome.

The success or failure of the consultant experiment depends on how you measure  results. If a theoretical saving is projected far enough into the future, then the benefits could tally up to millions of pounds. These become theoretical savings. If you sack someone who costs you thirty thousand a year and count the saving over ten years that means that you have saved three hundred thousand pounds. If the consultant who sacked the person receives ten per cent for their trouble, then there is still a considerable saving. In addition there might be opportunities to move staff off the balance sheet, as more and more council functions are put out to tender. There are many creative opportunities to improve the data. If the data were transparent there would be no call for speculation.

Consultants “landed and expanded”, often taking roles that should be filled internally.

The facts appear to indicate that in the process of solving the problem of the consultants running amok, and insinuating themselves into the fabric of the Council, as reported in “Peterborough regulates spend on consultants” above, one or more consultants were appointed to senior positions in Peterborough City Council, whilst remaining  directors of the consultancy that worked for the council. Basic research points to this as a fact, but the Council themselves are working under the threat of legal action (see under) , and being faced with a Freedom of Information request, they have taken the following steps.

The situation as of 2nd April 2010 is as follows:

AN ELITE team has been set up charged with investigating Peterborough City Council’s spending on expert consultants. Five councillors will make up a Task and Finish Review Group who will spend the next six months building up a detailed dossier on the council’s use of specialist consultants.
Peterborough Evening Telegraph.

And from the same document dated March 16th 2010:

The task group was set up at a meeting of the Sustainable Growth Scrutiny Committee last night, and its chairman, Cllr Michael Fletcher, immediately demanded a list of each consultant or consultancy firm being used by the council. He said: “It is in the public interest for this task and finish group to be set up. “This group should be able to interview consultants employed by the council about their role. “I would hope that we would not be subject to legal action from these consultants if we need these details to be known. “I think that September is an appropriate time for a conclusion to be reached; the public deserves answers by then.

Elsewhere ( Interview with Mike Fletcher also on March 16th.) Councillor Fletcher can be heard to say:

I can assure you that if I have anything to do with it, it’s not going to take six months, more like six weeks.

So between the time Cllr Fletcher left the BBC studio and the time he met the reporter from the ET his opinion on the situation seems to have experienced a transformation.

The task that the group faces is made more difficult by the fact that information in the public domain is unclear. It is likely to be the case that it was never anticipated that the ongoing consultant project would be subject to public scrutiny. There was never any reason to think that it would be. It was an internal process. No clear presentation exists. One will have to be compiled, and it is be expected that any document that emerges from the process will itself be subjected to a fiercer scrutiny again.

Further Developments at 9th June 2010 Council is Threatened with Audit Commission.

Latest News 12th September 2010 Report unexpectedly delayed for two months.

2 thoughts on “Peterborough City Council and Consultants Part Three – for research purposes only”

  1. Peterborough City Council employed consultants, Advanced Human Resources(AHR), to restructure the council’s legal department in 2005. The exercise was carried out over several months with meetings and interviews carried out off-site at a rural conference centre and city centre venues.

    The resulting Legal department at the end of the ‘restructure’ was virtually the same, with the loss of one administrator post.

    AHR used five consultants at the conference centre over the course of a week to assess all staff employed in the legal department. The cost of the consultants, including expenses, plus the cost of the venues used would have exceeded the saving made from the administrator salary many times over.

  2. V4 was Ben Ticehurst’s company. Ticehurst designed the restructuring of the Council in 2004 that created the post of deputy chief exec. He later came to fill this post (other posts held at other times), and is currently paid £145,000 a year, though not as an employee.
    His blog of early 2007 refers to work that is being done for Peterborough.
    Other consultants working long term with PCC include Blue Marble Consulting ( Chief Exec with Interim Director post) and Howard Bright.

    It would be interesting to know the value of services provided by the different companies, split into provision of senior staffing services, and then procured services from the consultancy practices owned by these people.

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