UKTC Archive

RE: Councils Carrying Out Tree Inspections on Private Land

Subject: RE: Councils Carrying Out Tree Inspections on Private Land
From: Jon Heuch
Date: Dec 20 2011 19:43:15
A) So you can deal with the conflict of interest?


A council employee visits a site on a consultancy basis, presumably signing 
some sort of contract
that includes

a confidentiality clause and then at a later date you get asked to be 
involved on the site as a
Council employee? 

Sorry you have to say, I have a conflict of interest and have confidential 
information that may
affect my client’s position.

You may be the senior most experienced arb in the Council; you may be the 
only arb, or the only
available that day.

Doesn’t sound like a position that is good for anybody; you may have got a 
few pence in but suddenly
you are unable to

perform your duties for the Council, or at least that should be the situation.


As a consultant working occasionally for councils the conflict position is 
relatively easy to deal
with. If I am given

a site to deal with but I know something about it due to my private 
contractual arrangements. I just
say I

cannot deal with that case and pass it onto someone else. If the situation 
arises at a later date it
is not too much of a

problem as most actions of the Council are in the public domain but if not 
the same situation arises
– I tell my client that

I am unable to work for them or on that site.


B) So Councils can “make money” can they? Only in the best socialist 
tradition. Council employees
have huge overheads – without even thinking they must be 100% of total 
employee costs (salary +
employers NI + pension + whatever else); in the good old days I expect they 
would have been nearer
200% and maybe still are as cutbacks may have changed these – possibly up, 
possibly down. This
situation is one of the drivers of out sourcing as outsourcers have lower 


The competition to the Council on a cost basis is Jo Bloggs working from his 
kitchen. Close to no
overheads – well he does have them but he is new to business so is 


Who should be cheaper? Jo Bloggs costs £17.50 per hour but should be charging 
£40-£50 per hour to
cover his overheads, pension, insurance, downtime, holidays etc etc. Perhaps 
he is charging £25-£30
per hour and still apparently making a reasonable income; he will only wake 
up once his accountant
hands him his bill and accounts showing a miserly surplus after all the 
overhead costs are added up.


The Council employee’s basic salary costs are also £17.50 per hour (without 
pension and payroll
admin costs) but his full cost is £35+ per hour with the overheads. To break 
even he needs to charge
the £35+ per hour. To make a decent profit he needs to charge £50+ per hour. 
The Council charges £25
per hour and thinks it is making a profit as the overheads aren’t seen in the 
annual budget. In
reality it is making a substantial loss, but cash flow is increased. 


Customers think that the Council and Jo Bloggs are charging about the same 
for the service.


The secret Socialist Republic of Kent (Tory led of course)

is heavily into this line of thinking. Why cost capital when you can use cash 
flow from taxpayers?
Wouldn’t want to share the accounts with the public though…….we might just 
show that a turnover of
£280 million doesn’t “save money”!



Whilst the numbers come off the top of my head how a Council can cover its 
costs and compete in the
market places defies logic. Either the Council is woefully undercharging and 
their accounts don’t
show them that or…..there is a shortage of private sector provision and what 
there is is having a
very nice time. 


 Jon Heuch Tel:          +44 (0)1233 XXX XXX Mob:    +44 (0)7810 XXX XXX


The UK Tree Care mailing list
To unsubscribe send

The UKTC is supported by The Arbor Centre