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Council rises up against new 'business-like' RIBA board . . .

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Council members have called for greater accountability and transparency from the new RIBA board and the right to sit in on its meetings.

During heated discussions last week, councillors made it clear that they intend to keep a close eye on the new body, which met for the first time on 12 September.

But members' suspicions that the board is trying to usurp council power were met with firm denials from the top table.

The spat began when councillor Rod Hackney claimed a member of the board had questioned a decision taken by council. He suggested that any board member not prepared to carry out the will of council should be forced to resign.

Hackney demanded that the board understands the limits of his power and that it has no right of comeback to question council decisions.

The events of the first meeting demonstrated that discipline had not been learnt, he said.

RIBA chief executive Richard Hastilow denied that the incident was serious, and reminded members that council had agreed to delegate powers to the board. These are defined as 'below the level requiring council approval'.

Hastilow added that the creation of the new body was a response to outside advice to become more business-like. 'If you don't like what the board does, sack it, ' he challenged.

And when Dermott Hanna suggested a motion that board members should be prevented from serving on the finance committee, Hastilow demonstrated obvious irritation with the challenges. He warned there was a risk of 'fettering ourselves with all sort of restrictions' that would discourage lay members from contributing to the organisation's work.

'Common sense must be allowed to prevail here, ' he appealed.

The row is being seen by some observers as the result of a misunderstanding about exactly what has been delegated to the new body. Vice-president for international affairs John Wright believes that those who thought it would simply be there to deal with 'day-to-day'matters are now surprised at the amount of work it has taken on.

But Clarence Daly, who demanded access to board agenda and minutes, said later he was satisfied with president Paul Hyett's assurances that these would be made available. And he said the tensions demonstrated no more than 'teething problems'.

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