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ARB accused of election stitch-up

The ARB has been accused of a stitch-up in its forthcoming election of a new chairman.

Despite its claims of transparency, the regulator is refusing to release details of nominations for the post, which were submitted last week.

However, the AJ understands that Owen Luder and Judge Humphrey Lloyd are running as a team - with Luder poised to take the chair and Lloyd to take over as deputy. The alliance is an attempt to exploit the split between architects and lay members on the board, in the hope that the lay members will support Luder for the top job, in return for architect members voting Lloyd in as his deputy.

The AJ also understands that the alliance is being presented to members as a fait accompli, with calls for the election to be cancelled. Construction industry chief Alan Crane is also in the running for the chairmanship, and could be the true architects' choice. Crane has been nominated by architect member John Wright and seconded by Frank Duffy.

Wright said Crane was the best candidate for the job in view of his proximity to government. Crane was leading the 'Rethinking Construction' movement, and was sensitive to the plight of architects.

Wright added that he supported a lay member holding the position, which he believed would give it greater credibility.An architect would not be able to win the trust of the public, he said. But he played down suggestions of infighting and said that whoever is elected 'we will all fall in behind them'.

Figures within the RIBA are worried about the influence of Judge Humphrey Lloyd within the ARB. A source within the institute said that Lloyd was believed to be behind the recent leap in levels of minimum public indemnity insurance requirements. The move has caused a dispute between the ARB and the RIBA that continues to rumble on.

The source said there were moves to block Lloyd - who is seen as being hostile to architects - from bidding for the chairmanship, and that there may be a conflict of interest between his work in the technology and construction department at the Royal Courts of Justice and his role as an ARB board member. Crane, on the other hand, is seen as a figure friendly to architects, who would help lift the profession rather than take a nit-picking approach.

Board member Marco Goldschmied urged the ARB to become more transparent and to begin by making public the names of the nominees. 'If they don't want people to know they're standing, they shouldn't be standing, ' he said.

Members will vote at the next ARB board meeting on 23 May. The post of chair became available after Barbara Kelly's term ended in March.

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