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RIBA slams ARB for stepping on toes

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Institute sends strongly worded letter of complaint to Architects Registration Board protesting against trespasses on its professional remit

The RIBA has launched a surprise attack on the ARB, accusing the register of overstepping its remit by engaging in ‘direct competition’ with UK architects’ professional bodies.

In a strongly worded letter, RIBA president Angela Brady said the institute was ‘increasingly concerned’ at the extension of ARB activities, which threatened to jeopardise the two bodies’ ‘sensible working relationship’. She added that the RIAS, RSUA and RSAW also shared the concerns.

The confrontation is the first to emerge since the government rejected an RIBA bid to oust ARB control of the professional register in 2010.

In the letter, Brady argued it was ‘not appropriate, or lawful’ for the arm’s length body to encourage architects to use ‘ARB’ after their names, to attend consumer shows or to create an online directory for marketing architects’ services.

The concise, two-page communication – sent to ARB chair Beatrice Fraenkel in December  – also criticised an ARB ebulletin, which referred to registrants as ‘members’ and referred to ‘flying the flag for architects’.

It said: ‘Not only is all of this outside the ARB’s statutory remit, it also significantly undermines and overlaps with the role of the professional bodies such as the RIBA, RIAS, RSUA and RSAW. This is placing the ARB into direct competition with professional bodies, which is putting in jeopardy our co-operative and sensible working relationship.’

The tirade – which demanded ‘written assurance’ that ARB would ‘discontinue all activities which are not within its statutory objectives’ – will be discussed at the register’s board meeting today (Thursday).

Angela Brady’s letter to Beatrice Fraenkel

Angela Brady’s letter to Beatrice Fraenkel - click to view

A source close to the board said: ‘There are people on the ARB board who are not RIBA members. For them this will be seen as unacceptable bullying by a membership organization. They will find this very offensive.’

The ARB condemned the letter claiming it stemmed ‘from a number of misapprehensions about ARB’s work and obligations.’

‘We have encouraged the RIBA to reconsider the content of the letter and to hold further discussions with us,’ said a spokesperson. ‘We are awaiting their response.’


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