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Salisbury support is a must for an open ARB

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Further to your letter from three past presidents of the RIBA and practice principles requesting support from those on the register for Ian Salisbury (AJ 11.11.04), I thought it useful to explain, from the perspective of the 'lower ranks' of the profession, why it is important we support Ian's stance.

The actions of the ARB are undemocratic and contrary to the wishes of the majority of the electorate that voted for Ian with an overwhelming majority.

Its letter of February to the entire register incurred an expenditure of more than £15,000 and yet the decision to publish, although purported to be made by the board, was made by some board members after the meeting. No account has been forthcoming to confirm that at least four elected members of the board, as required by the Architects Act, were included in this decision of the board.

This expenditure has been challenged by two of our elected members. The remainder should state whether they were part of the decision and if the rules were complied with. We must be allowed the basic protection of openness and compliance with procedures intended to protect out interest and democratic representation.

Why is this issue important? It demonstrates the importance of the majority of our elected representatives, the disregard for the Architects Act and the financial burden placed on those on the register and, if the letter is compared to the text of the resolution referred to (all available on the ARB website at www. arb. org. uk), the extent to which the ARB misrepresents its activities to those on the register.

I have pledged to support Ian, not because I can afford to - I'm in a fledgling practice with a baby on the way - but because my future as an architect relies on open, proportionate and accountable regulation. If you cannot pledge money, show support by writing to Robin Vaughan at the ARB, outlining your concerns and requesting that your letter is copied to all board members.

We are making some progress.

The appointee vacancy on the ARB has yet to be filled, meaning that the board is evenly balanced between architects and appointees. Since some of the appointees are usually absent for the majority of meetings (yet are able to claim their full attendance allowance), the balance of power lies with the architects. We must convince other elected members to overturn the rule changes and not to hand the ARB's powers entirely over to the chief executive.

Only two questions need to be asked: why is it necessary for such authority to be vested in one individual; and why should we support those who abandon the responsibilities we vest in them by election?

Mark Benzie, London EC1

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