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Scottish architects eye public works revival

Sholto Humphries, the new president of the Royal Incorporation of Scottish Architects (RIAS), has pledged to petition Scotland’s newly elected SNP government for an overhaul of public procurement law

Following his inauguration at the RIAS convention in Glasgow last week, Humphries (pictured) set out a plan to boost practices’ access to public contracts. He said: ‘Scottish people need to get good product for their money and good procurement is central to that. Procurement is hurting smaller and medium practices and we’re negotiating with the Scottish Futures Trust to make it simpler.’

RIAS secretary and treasurer Neil Baxter added: ‘What we’re look at is a hard edged approach to amke sure architects to continue to be employed on public projects in a meaningful way.’

Architects welcomed Humphries’ stance and pledges by the new government to kick-start construction projects. An anticipated £2.2 billion credit line to Holyrood facilitated by the UK Treasury is expected to boost public spending, reviving scores of stalled schemes. The SNP has committed to rebuilding ‘half of Scotland’s crumbling schools’ and creating a £250 million Scottish Futures Fund.

Archial joint managing director Bob Hall said: ‘The SNP, like the Labour Party, believes chancellor George Osborne’s cuts have been too fast and too deep.

‘During the election campaign first minister Alex Salmond said he would seek borrowing powers to allow the Scottish government to make those cuts shallower and slower. We will see very different attempts to secure economic recovery north and south of the border.’

Peter Wilson, director of the Wood Studio at Edinburgh Napier University’s Forest Products Research Institute, said: ‘The arrival of a majority SNP administration at Holyrood may well prove to be seminal for the profession in Scotland.’

Past president David Dunbar awarded the incorporation’s medallion to Humphries, of Aberdeen-based GPA Humphries, as part of an official handover during the two-day event, which included speeches by Kim Nielsen of 3XN, Ignacio Vicens of Vicens + Ramos, Jan Gehl and Jorge Silvetti.

RIAS honorary fellowships were later awarded to Louis Becker, of Henning Larsen Architects; to Malcolm Cooper, chief inspector of Historic Scotland, and to Nathalie Régnier and the late Michel Kagan, both of Michel Kagan Architecture.

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