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The ARB Reform Group will campaign rigorously for its radical agenda

We have successfully held the board’s expansion at bay – with your help, we can continue

When the ARB (Architects Registration Board) Reform Group was first elected to the ARB board in 2006, we were replacing architects who appeared to support its expansionist objectives. We went in like an avenging force, determined to oppose the ARB’s arrogance and disregard for the concerns of the profession.

The first year was consequently marked by dissension and hostility, which didn’t exactly achieve change, but firmly established that with five voting in unison against their ambitions, the board would find it difficult to radically expand their remit. But with the election of Mike Starling as chair of the ARB in 2007, together with the appointment of Alison Carr as registrar the year before, there was a new team at the top, signalling a predisposition to listen to our concerns and seek consensus.

This is not to say that the past two years have not been without their battles, but despite this, the fundamental drive has held, and we have achieved a great deal: equal numbers of elected to un-elected members now sit on committees; we have prevented the ARB’s monitoring of competence and its usurping or replicating of Continuing Professional Development (CPD); and we have continually defended the title by removing non-architects who falsely claim and abuse the title of architect. We have also started a review questioning the necessity of the board’s monitoring of professional indemnity insurance and a review of the outsourcing of exams. Overall, we have opposed the ARB’s programme of expansion and held the board to an agenda of minimal size.

We have no intention of neglecting the successes of the past two years by abandoning constructive dialogue

The downside of this progress is that, in recognition of the goodwill demonstrated by the chair, we agreed to limit our public criticism of the board and have only commented adversely in public in exceptional circumstances. To some extent, this left our electorate uninformed of our progress and has resulted in equally uninformed criticism in some quarters.

The electorate can be assured we will continue to campaign rigorously for the radical agenda set out in our manifesto, and to continue to hold the board to account – in carrying out its statutory purpose and no more. However, the Reform Group has no intention of neglecting to build on the successes of the past two years by abandoning constructive dialogue.

We are absolutely confident that, if the electorate votes for continuity, we shall, at last, achieve the long-term objective of reforming the ARB, in particular containing its over-regulation – and its consequent expenditure. However, we shall need the tools of all seven seats to achieve this. The choice is yours.

George Oldham
comment@architectsjournal.co.uk

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