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. . . Reid's history is all we have - so learn from it

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In reply to Robin Nicholson (Letters, AJ 15.2.01) no-one wants to settle old scores, except perhaps Alex Reid. However, the past is all we have to go on for indications as to the future. In Reid's case the past resulted in:

the refusal to listen to the views of members and the transfer of the control of the RIBA from the membership to the executive;

the abolition of all committees and task groups which were the main avenue of membership participation in the institute;

the centralisation of functions at Portland Place at the expense of the regions and the reversal of roles, with the membership being perceived as existing merely to serve the executive;

a collapse of morale among many of the staff at 66 Portland Place;

a financial war of attrition against the regions;

an 'imaginative' approach to his role in allegedly rescuing the RIBA finances as Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank has recently pointed out;

the imposition of costs for RIBA services which hitherto had been free to members.

As Nicholson rightly points out, the political climate has shifted in favour of good design.

It is a mystery how Nicholson believes that Reid will champion the cause of design when his experience of it in the real world would seem to be zero.

I'm not surprised Nicholson does not wish us to focus on this track record. But the lesson to be learnt from history is that only the foolish refuse to learn the lessons from history.

Professor Peter F Smith, Sheffield

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