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Raynsford lobbied for greater protection of title

Construction minister Nick Raynsford is under increasing pressure from architects and consumers to crack down on non-architects using titles such as 'architectural consultant' and 'architectural services'. The Architects Registration Board will later this month present the government with a dossier of information outlining a case for extending its powers to protect the title of architect. Today, the ARB can only prosecute designers who call themselves 'architect', even if others fulfil the same role.'This situation causes a lot of people to ask why we don't prosecute, ' said ARB chief executive Robin Vaughan.

Last year the ARB received 850 complaints, more than half of which it was powerless to investigate because the professional was not trading under the name architect.

Vaughan stressed that the dossier is not the view of the ARB and that it is simply 'passing on information' to the government. The situation was highlighted in August when architect Geoffrey Tournoff was fined £800. He immediately removed himself from the register and pledged to continue practising under the title of 'designer'.

The approach to Raynsford was agreed at the ARB board meeting last week and Raynsford himself is due to attend the ARB's next board meeting on 20 December.

Following an AJ campaign, all such meetings will be open to the press.

The ARB's powers could only be broadened through a change of the Act of Parliament under which it operates.

This was passed in 1997 and the ARB thinks it is unlikely that the government would make time for changes so soon.

But privately many ARB board members think that significant improvements could be made to the regulation of the profession if the Act could be redrafted. The ARB has pledged to clear up confusion over what its disciplinary committee considers unacceptable profess- ional conduct and serious professional incompetence, the two charges which architects can face.

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