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RIBA council throws out motion against chief executive

Concerns over RIBA governance erupted last week in a failed bid to rein in Portland Place’s chief executive, Harry Rich

A motion questioning whether institute executives were ‘discharging their administration with due diligence’ was one of several petitions levelled in the run-up to ‘savage’ cuts proposed in membership activities.

Backed by former procurement reform group chair Walter Menteth, the motion was defeated during an unprecedented ‘closed camera’ debate, where institute employees were forced to exit the room.

A document, understood to be an early version of the motion, called on the chief executive to ‘respond respectfully, expeditiously and with due diligence to the motions passed by RIBA Council and to ensure and report back to Council that the institute staff carry out the decisions of the RIBA Council.’

The motion, which effectively demanded closer scrutiny of the £152,000-a-year employee, also sought to ‘uphold RIBA Policy in the implementation of the practical affairs of the institute and ensure that agreed policies are carried through and activities not stopped or changed without board approval and notification to council,’ and to ‘work to support the priorities, aspirations and engagement of the elected president and membership.’ 

Speaking after the vote RIBA President Stephen Hodder said: ‘As president I have a clear agenda to support the RIBA’s strategy and address major issues such as the reform of architectural education and extending public outreach. 

‘We have a clear member and executive structure in place designed to help us best achieve our ambitions. It is quite right that our structures and procedures are regularly reviewed to make sure they are effective and I am pleased to support the constitution of a new review group to do exactly that.

He added: ‘Through an effective combination of member and staff expertise the RIBA achieves great things and I am pleased to confirm the RIBA Board’s full confidence, and Council’s overwhelming and resounding support, of the whole executive team as clearly expressed during the Council meeting.’ 

A separate motion by former RIBA president Angela Brady against plans to float off the institute’s Building Futures think-tank was carried.

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