The AJ claims that I have withdrawn my recommendation that people should vote for Jim Cuthbertson in the ARB election (AJ 16.02.06). This is not the case, my position remains unchanged.
What is true is that Cuthbertson is not an 'RIAS official candidate'. Had you taken the trouble to actually read what I had written you would have noted the phrase: 'While an RIAS member [Cuthbertson] is not standing on any ticket - he will be an independent voice, much as I might want him to be an RIAS voice!' It is this very independence that I value in him. I continue to support Cuthbertson.
I accept that I was wrong in my belief that Cuthbertson was the only Scot standing. I have been advised that Mark Benzie is also a Scot. So too is Sarah Lupton. Tom Woolley also has Scots connections and I apologise to all concerned for my ignorance of this. I agree wholeheartedly with Benzie that the issues should not revolve around nationality. The RIAS's only concern with this is a perceived need for a practitioner who understands the differences between Scots law and English law, so as to be able to represent these to ARB. This is a pragmatic issue, not a nationalistic one.
I believe that any reform of the Architect's Act or its interpretation will only come about through constructive engagement. This means making consumer protection fundamental. I refer you to the statement issued by the National Consumer Council (NCC) in their response to the proposed regulatory reform order. In particular the segment: 'We are surprised and concerned by the extent to which the consultation paper makes little or no attempt to consider consumer interest, and instead focuses on the interests of the profession. This is perhaps an indication of why an independent body remains important.' Architects must win the trust of the public, and I believe the reform agenda is not the way to do that. If we can demonstrate that we have the interests of the public - our clients - at heart then we can perhaps move from protection of title to protection of function, and that is a prize worth fighting for.
Douglas Read, RIAS president