Paul Hyett, chairing his first council meeting as RIBA president, has pledged to introduce an 'open door policy'. And he wants to encourage vice-presidents to make greater efforts to attend regional meetings in an attempt to close the 'gap' which has been allowed to develop between Portland Place and the rest of the country.
Council should be mindful of the number of architects, many in practices of three people or fewer, who work 'in a very quiet way' in the regions, he said. Hyett aims to run regular surgeries once a week, where he will set time aside to hear from members directly.
Hyett also swore to attend all regional meetings, accompanied by RIBA chief executive Richard Hastilow, in a drive to understand local issues and bring them to bear on national policy. He also encouraged vice-presidents to attend regional meetings, especially at times when their field of expertise is represented on the agenda. 'There is a lot to do to close the gap that has unwittingly been allowed to grow between the regions and the HQ, ' said Hyett. 'The institute relies on the subscriptions of people around the country, and we must remember that.' Council member John Wright even proposed a change to the constitution to force vicepresidents to attend more local council meetings, while Rod Hackney argued that the regional agenda ought to be widened to include social initiatives to deal with the current racial unrest in northern English towns: 'Architects need to be brought into these areas to show what is possible. If the professions do not go into these areas, then the government will lose further control, ' he warned.
Hyett also pledged to build better 'bridges' with international members, encourage the profession to work with new procurement methods such as PFI (AJ 5.7.01) and encourage architecture schools to develop more vocational courses.
'There is too much emphasis on design and not enough on craft and management, ' he said. 'There is a significant amount of work to be done.'