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ARB elections: Reform group chases institute backing

The ARB Reform Group (ARG) has demanded official RIBA backing following the institute’s controversial decision to support four non-reform group candidates for election to ARB’s board

Five of the seven Reform Group candidates have signed a joint letter calling on institute president Angela Brady to back them alongside its currently endorsed runners: John Assael, Alan Cook, Susan Ware and Roger Shrimplin.

The Reform Group letter – signed by Ruth Brennan, Hans Eisner, Patrick Inglis, Andrew Mortimer and Rob Tate – questioned the RIBA’s decision to ‘endorse some of its members and not others’, complaining the institute had failed to engage ‘with all those members’ or invite ‘members to stand with its endorsement.’

It went on to warn that ‘ambiguity’ resulting from the original four endorsements ‘could undermine the votes for both RIBA endorsed candidates and ARG candidates.’ The letter also emphasised ‘common aims’ between the two parties and applauded the RIBA for adopting reform group policies calling for a minimalist ARB.

The surprise announcement earlier this month of the RIBA endorsements came as a blow to the Reform Group, which was set up to ‘define and restrict’ the ARB’s powers and previously benefited from tacit Portland Place support. However it now faces an uncertain future with its two leading lights, Colin Brock and George Oldham, standing down.

Patrick Inglis 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’.

He said: ‘The RIBA have not endorsed anybody in previous elections. We individually e-mailed off requests [for RIBA backings] as soon as we heard the RIBA had endorsed candidates.

‘Two of the [endorsed] members were heavily involved with RIBA council, it looks awfully like cronyism. It’s possible they went through some rigorous process but we would like to know what it is.’

Mortimer added: ‘If [the] RIBA is to endorse some of its members according to the principles that it has set out (which have been adopted from the ARB manifesto) then it should endorse all its members who are standing to promote those principles.’

In response to the letter, 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.’

The ARB election polling deadline is 12pm on 1 March and the succesful candidates will be announced on 10 March or soon after.


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