John Bancroft's recent letter about CABE (AJ 20.12.01) is so full of inaccuracies, misconceptions and, frankly, bizarre analogies that I was uncertain whether to reply. There is a personal agenda at play here so I will calmly try to set the record straight, point by point.
CABE is not launching a 'takeover bid to relieve English Heritage of its statutory role visà-vis 20th century buildings'.
English Heritage will continue to be in charge of recommending buildings for listing, whatever their age. The secretary of state, who decides whether or not to take on board these recommendations, has asked CABE to advise directly on post-war listings, a role that has previously been undertaken very ably by Bryan Jefferson, who is retiring.
This is a logical progression for an organisation charged by government with the improvement of England's built environment.
As organisations with the common aim of creating the best possible built environment, EH and CABE are able to work successfully on joint projects (such as the forthcoming Building in Historic Contexts publication) while engaging in much-needed public debate over specific cases, such as the Heron Tower. Why should we see eye to eye on everything? We are both mature enough to respect each other's opinions, even when we don't agree with them.
I would be interested to know whether Mr Bancroft supports our opposition at the forthcoming planning inquiry at Coppergate in York.
Mr Bancroft is ill-informed if he thinks CABE, as a publicly funded body, is not already subjected to the greatest scrutiny.
CABE's performance is measured and evaluated constantly by our two sponsoring departments - the DCMS and DTLR - as well as by our commissioners and executive team. We are a part of the government and our targets and procedures are clearly outlined in our corporate strategy and annual report.
We are continually assessing our priorities, objectives and operations in an open and accountable way.
Mr Bancroft has also got hold of the wrong end of the stick about the Architecture Foundation. The foundation has been supported by CABE directly for the past two years, because of an existing agreement directly between the DCMS and the AF, which CABE took over on foundation. This agreement terminates in April 2002, as has been clear from the outset.CABE will continue to support the foundation through its new grants programme, but the foundation will be asked to bid for funds along with other architecture centres and organisations.
Far from CABE trying to 'curtail' the foundation's activities, as Mr Bancroft perversely seems to believe, we are trying to spread our limited funds to ensure that not only does the foundation's worthwhile activity continue, but that similar programmes are available to people living outside London. We are also standing side by side with the foundation in asking for additional funding from the GLA.
All in all, Mr Bancroft's letter represents a depressing end to what I think has been a successful year for CABE. We will need to test how far, if at all, his views are shared.
Jon Rouse, chief executive, CABE