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Could new rules lead to an abuse of power?

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I am comforted to have, from the chief executive of the ARB, an assurance that the powers enshrined in the rule changes brought in last year are to be applied with restraint.

The chief executive can assert that board members have 'no problem with the board's corporate governance', since to be on the board they must provide an undertaking to not make any public comment that would call any decision of the board into question (see rule 8.1).

My concerns therefore remain that:

Resolutions of the board may be passed without there being a meeting of the board. This is of concern because the point of meetings is the exchange of opinion (see rule 4(iii)).

Once authorised, the chief executive may act on behalf of the board without any further reference. This refers to rule 4(iv), which says: 'The CE, chair and other officers have such delegated authority to act on behalf of the board as may be authorised by the board.'

Any or all of the elected members may be removed from office by appointed members voting en bloc. This circumstance arises from the reduction of the quorum to 50 per cent - the accused board member being ineligible to vote and the majority being without regard to abstentions (see rule 7(vi)).

The registrar, who is also the board's chief executive, may alter candidates' election statements while at the same time continuing as the electoral returning officer. This refers to rule 5.8:

'The returning officer shall have the right to edit any election statement because it contains statements of a misleading or inaccurate nature.' In such a situation, the candidate will be offered the opportunity to edit their election statement. If they reject this, the returning officer will edit the statement.

It is for your readers to judge whether these rule changes could lead to an abuse of power by the executive of ARB.

Kate Macintosh, Winchester

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