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Inclusion of retired architects on ARB register is 'unlawful'

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Former RIBA honorary secretary Maurice McCarthy has written to the ARB to protest against what he calls the 'unlawful' inclusion of retired architects on the board's register. He told the AJ this week that he will also be taking the matter up with Andrew Smith - his local MP and chief secretary to the Treasury.

McCarthy believes that retired architects should be barred from registering themselves. He believes that the ARB is 'failing in its statutory duty' by admitting people who do not regularly undertake architectural work or continuous professional development. He also suggests that the ARB admits retired people simply to bank the £55 annual registration fee.

'When a person applies for registration he or she must demonstrate that they have suitable qualifications, including CPD, and that they have recent practical experience. By definition, a person who is retired is not up to date because they won't have done the CPD and won't have had recent practical experience, ' he said. 'The board appears to be guilty of placing financial expediency above consumer and public interest.'

He continued: 'As the managing director of a firm of project managers [Quaser Management] that from time to time advises clients on the selection of architects, it's a matter of regret and concern that the register is not a list of architects that meet the ARB's standards for admission. That is a matter of public interest.'

ARB chief executive Robin Vaughan said a 'minimal' number of retired architects preferred to remain on the register. He also said that registration applicants were not required to state whether they were retired, adding that he did not wish to run an 'Orwellian, Big Brother-type' organisation.

He admitted that the ARB currently has no arrangements in place to test whether or not registered architects have undertaken CPD, but said that this matter had already been taken up with the profession. In a detailed survey sent to registrants earlier this year, the board asked them whether they thought CPD should be better policed. 'The full results are not in but if it was thought by the profession and consumers that CPD ought to be monitored, then we would do it.

But it would cost the profession a lot of money, ' said Vaughan. 'We'll do it only when we see evidence that they want us to do it.'

McCarthy is no stranger to controversy. Last May, he threatened to take the RIBA to court over its plans to ensure all corporate members were registered with the ARB (AJ 17.5.01). A council meeting voted to delay taking a decision until the legal position could be clarified (see right).

The latest ARB annual report shows that 29,905 architects were registered with the board on 31 December 2000 - a rise of just 76 on the previous year.More than 31,300 architects were on the ARB register 10 years ago. The report also shows that the board's operating reserves of £1.1 million fell by £500,000 in order to pay for the refurbishment of the head office in Hallam Street.

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