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ARB to urge Raynsford for law change on misuse of title

The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is to step up its efforts to change the Architects Act 1997 and clamp down on the misuse of the title 'architect'.

ARB vice-chairman Owen Luder said this week that the ARB will call on construction minister Nick Raynsford to change the law on the use of the title in an effort to reduce the damage that non-registered architects can do to the profession's reputation.'We need to try and tighten up the law so the word architect is not used to mislead the public,' Luder said.

The ARB may approach Raynsford with possible changes to the law when he attends a board meeting at the statutory body in October. Last year the minister demanded that the ARB should collect enough evidence on the issue to persuade parliament to make legislative changes. But Luder admitted that 'opportunities for new legislation on architecture may be remote'due to the government's packed legislative programme, and added that Raynsford could instead introduce minor amendments through the House of Commons.

News of the initiative follows the re-election of Barbara Kelly and Owen Luder as the chairwoman and vice-chairman of ARB at last week's board meeting. They were voted in for a further year, ending speculation that recent troubles would mean a change of leadership.

Over recent months ARB has been hit by resignations from its board over the appointment of a new chief executive and criticism of its handling of professional misconduct cases.

But the ARB is determined to play down these troubles, and Luder pledged to tackle ongoing tension over the issue of education between the ARB and 'certain people within the RIBA'. He said that ARB's greatest fear was to admit an architect and then strike them off for incompetence. 'The ARB is not in a position to leave education to the RIBA, ' Luder said.'I hope both parties will accept we need to work together on education.' But he drew a distinction between the responsibilities of the two bodies: 'The ARB is about putting buildings together, not whether they are good architecture or aesthetically pleasing.'

The board also considered ways to manage conflicts of interest among its members and agreed to set in train proposals to boost the number of architects registered with the ARB - currently 30,000. It is considering a plan to cut the reinstatement fee from £165 to £110 for architects who have not paid their subscription for less than two years.The reinstatement cost for architects off the register for more than two years is also set to rise from £55 to £110.

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