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RIBA rents London flat for presidential use

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The RIBA has rented a flat for its new president, George Ferguson, in a ground-breaking move that could pave the way for presidents based in the regions.

The institute has secured a one-bedroom property on Weymouth Street, close to its HQ in Portland Place, for Ferguson to use when he is in town on RIBA business. The institute has refused to reveal the cost, but a local estate agent estimated a rental cost of £350-£400 a week.

The RIBA claims the move is cheaper than paying for Ferguson to stay overnight in a hotel.

Ferguson said: 'When I first stood I said it must be recognised that it is extremely difficult for people to do this job the way it is meant to be done from anywhere but London and the Home Counties.

'I think it is really important the regions are represented at the highest level at the RIBA. But what do I do? It was decided quite early that I should have a pad reasonably close to the RIBA, so they budgeted for it.

Fortunately, the letting market is pretty good. It means I can work late and early, and I don't have to change in the loo.'

Annette Fisher, who was slammed during last year's presidential election campaign for seeking sponsorship to fund the post, criticised the RIBA for being inconsistent. 'My gut feeling is that it doesn't feel right.

There are implications of renting a flat that the RIBA has not acknowledged.'

However, Richard Murphy, who has previously declined to stand for the presidential post citing the problem of being based outside the capital, applauded the decision. 'It is probably good housekeeping, ' he said.

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