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ARB elections: Reform group accused of ‘dirty tricks’

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RIBA-endorsed candidate John Assael has hit out at the ARB Reform Group for ‘exaggerated and unsubstantiated’ claims in its election manifesto

Assael (pictured), who is supported in his campaign for election to ARB’s board by former RIBA presidents George Ferguson, Jack Pringle and Sunand Prasad, said that claims the Reform Group had achieved greater co-operation with the institute and had worked together to simplify registration were ‘simply not true’.

‘The ARB reform group seem so desperate to get elected that they are resorting to dirty tricks,’ said Assael, who alongside Susan Ware, Alan Cook and Roger Shrimplin, has been officially backed by the RIBA.

Assael’s broadside was backed by a string of top-ranking RIBA directors and vice presidents who testified to a lack of dialogue between the institute and the group, which has held five out of seven seats available to architects on the board since 2006.

The RIBA’s stance is the latest blow to the electoral campaign of the Reform Group, which was set up to ‘define and restrict’ the ARB’s powers and previously benefited from tacit Portland Place support but now faces an uncertain future with its two leading lights, Colin Brock and George Oldham, standing down.

ARB Reform Group candidate Andrew Mortimer, who is standing for re-election, complained that alleged breakdown in communications were instead a ‘failing of the RIBA’. ‘I thought I would be courted by the RIBA and there would be some relationship,’ he said.

Five of the seven Reform Group candidates have signed a joint letter calling on institute president Angela Brady to back them too. Patrick Inglis, one of the five signatories, said that while the group was pleased the RIBA had ‘adopted’ the Reform Group’s policies they were keen for clarity over the institute’s choice of endorsed candidates and said it should ‘not appear to be indulging in cronyism’.

In response, RIBA director of practice Adrian Dobson said the endorsements were formally approved by the institute’s practice and profession committee.

‘The RIBA is encouraging its members to place the four RIBA-endorsed candidates in the first four places on the single transferable voting list, but supports other candidates who agree with its principles for the remaining places.’

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