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. . . as it approves 5.5% hike in its subscription rates . . .

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RIBA membership fees will rise by 5.5 per cent next year, with the prospect of further increases in the future. The move will increase the full corporate membership fee from £237 to £250.

Council voted in favour of the rise - at the highest end of the scale agreed at the last council meeting (AJ 26.7.01) - following the recommendation of Peter Trebilcock, vice-president for membership.

Supporting the need for a rise, Richard Hastilow said that income was being spent on a capital programme of works, salary increases and staff pensions, and that other work was being cut back as a result.

'We are trying to do an awful lot of things and don't do all of them well enough, ' he said.

But some members were even concerned that the rise did not go far enough. John Wright warned council that it could be missing a timely 'window of opportunity' to raise fees by almost twice as much - to 10 per cent. He said the RIBA was not doing the work it should because of budget cutbacks.

While Hastilow supported further rises in the future, he said they could only take place when there was 'something more concrete' to offer members in return.

Speaking after the meeting, Wright disagreed that members needed to be offered 'bells and whistles' to justify larger subscription rises. He said there was no danger that people would leave as a result of rises.

'But people will leave if we don't do our job properly, ' he warned.

And councillor David Forbes went further, calling again for an increase to £1,000. 'If we are going to deliver good services, it's going to come at a cost, ' he said.

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