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Radical Roche's bid for president

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Maverick RIBA councillor Chris Roche has announced plans to run for the institute's presidency in this year's election, under a radical manifesto of change. Roche's proposals include both a members' referendum on dropping the royal charter and plans to fund a new headquarters in King's Cross through the sale of current headquarters, 66 Portland Place.

The manifesto is likely to face stiff opposition during the campaign, however, from Brian Godfrey, the other candidate who threw his hat into the ring this week.

The rest of the expected field is also taking shape. Former BDP chair and past RIBA vice-president for practice Richard Saxon has told the AJ that he is seriously considering the role, as have a series of other familiar faces at Portland Place.

The AJ understands that the others on the verge of standing are Jack Pringle, vice-president for education; Simon Foxell, chair of London region; and Valerie Owen, managing director of business quango London First.

But none of these establishment figures is likely to compete with Roche for controversy. In his manifesto, the London-based small practitioner demands that the RIBA act more like a trade union. 'I believe the Royal Institute of British Architects should promote architects, and not, as it is argued, architecture - this is done by architects themselves, CABE, the media, the V&A and the RA, ' the manifesto reads.

Roche's manifesto goes on to call for the institute to 'move away from the promotion of fee scales' and instead set a minimum wage for principals of £50 an hour outside London and £60 an hour inside.

Roche also stresses his feeling that 'the institute should modernise'. Along with the promise of a referendum on the royal charter, he also demands that 'the identity should be uncompromisingly modern and devoid of imperialist imagery'. 'I believe the current RIBA signboards are old fashioned and unimaginative, the lions should be consigned to the waste bin of history, ' he said.

He also calls for an end to the current policy of hiring out Portland Place. 'If the economics of the RIBA determine that the headquarters needs to be rented out for revenue, then I believe it should be sold off and a new facility built, ' Roche added.

The only other manifesto beginning to take shape is that of Brian Godfrey, who is expected to run on a similar ticket to his previous tilt at the presidency (AJ 26.10.03). In 2001 Godfrey ran as an anti-big-practice and anti-London candidate, calling for the institute to focus more of its efforts on servicing the interests of small regional practices.

RICHARD SAXON Expected to be one of the establishment candidates if he runs, the former chair of BDP is likely to campaign on the basis of continuity. He has also formerly held the vicepresidency for practice, so expect this to feature strongly.

VALERIE OWEN Although the only woman expected to run, she will not run on a feminist ticket. The most likely campaign basis will be her business background and ability to maintain the institute as a going concern under its current financial pressures.

SIMON FOXELL Another mainstream candidate, the chair of RIBA London region will have the support of the established small practice lobby. He has contributed time to the institute, preparing papers on PFI and the future of the profession.

JACK PRINGLE Pringle is principal of commercial practice Pringle Brandon. He is the RIBA's vicepresident for education, so the government's university reforms may feature heavily if he runs. On other issues expect him to stick with the mainstream.

CHRIS ROCHE This year's most radical candidate, Roche will campaign for major change, demanding the institute act less like a professional body and more like a trade union. Highlights include a minimum wage for principals and a referendum on the royal charter.

BRIAN GODFREY Certainly an outsider, this small practitioner can be expected to ruffle a few feathers at Portland Place.

In his last run at the presidency, which called for greater focus on the regions, he triggered an unofficial 'stop Godfrey' campaign.

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