After the havoc of the early '90s we worked to have ARCUK continued. Parliament agreed to this with minimal terms of reference;
registration cost £30.
Instead we have the ARB, with a minority representation of architects and dominated by government appointees. It is clearly either empire building or having empire thrust upon it, and no amount of mockinnocent letters from Robin Vaughan (AJ 31.3.05) will alter this. It is a regulatory watchdog carrying out government interpretation of public interest, at our expense.
It is pushing at its boundaries to see if it can reduce architectural education to a battery of tick boxes, excluding imagination, enterprise and ethical intent. It unleashes on small practices and sole practitioners a framework designed to protect individuals against multinational corporations and monopolies.
It is not content with wrapping its activities in a smokescreen of undemocratic practices and secrecy, but has gone to considerable expense (ours) to hamstring the RIBA and stifle and prepare to eject Ian Salisbury, the only person with the patience and dedication to unravel its methodology, had he not resigned first.
This year's increase in subscriptions from £70 to £74.50 can be entirely accounted for by the cost of the legal shenanigans and expected loss of 1,200 registrants.
If I am typical of those leaving, I may be ageing, but, more relevantly, I am unwilling to pay for the activities described.
With the internet we can all state easily who we are and what we do or have done, and clients can easily access it. There is no shortage of work. The other 29,400 of you can make 2005 the last year of the ARB by deregistering.
The RIBA could then consolidate its historic and international role of maintaining educational standards and advising its members of current issues, including PI. The RIBA could likewise recognise the difference the internet has made to the information world and backtrack from much of the commercial activity that has drawn it away from being a learned society with an orderly approach to how architects obtain, and are paid for, work. We could even become so cooperative within the profession that we could make a serious stand against other government interference through planning, prescriptive building regulations, the long-term cost of PFI and the fig leaf of its 'sustainability policy'.
We could temporarily appoint one part-timer with a laptop to keep a record of people with RIBA Part 3 or equivalent qualifications and maintain a website for about £1.50 a year. I am now an xArchitect, but the record could include uArchitects (unattached) and nArchitects (in all but name), as well as chartered architects. With the ARB dead and the 1997 act repealed, we could just use plain English.
Chris Morton, Colwall, Worcestershire