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Small practices slam Labour initiativies for 'big firm bias'

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Small practice needs 'rebranding' because it is misunderstood and undervalued by the industry and the government. And because of initiatives such as Egan, small practices are losing out on their traditional lifeblood projects such as hospitals and schools.Those were the key messages to come out of this week's small practice conference sponsored by the AJ. About 200 delegates - but not 'small practices' presidential candidate Brian Godfrey - heard presentations from RIBA chief executive Richard Hastilow and Hergen Haye of the Department of Trade and Industry small firm liaison unit, who outlined new government initiatives targeted at helping small businesses.

But perceptions of small practices are off the mark and needed redefining. A straw poll called for by presidential candidate and conference chairman Paul Hyett revealed that some of the delegates are doing jobs in excess of £3 million.

There was anger as Sunand Prasad and Colin Harding presented the case from Egan and M4I. The conference insisted that partnering, prime contracting, and framework agreements are disadvantaging small practices.

Delegates complained that they are being cut out of government projects at both national and local level. Their message to the DTI was underlined by architect developer Crispen Kelly, who insisted that M4I procedures may mitigate against good architecture at the local level.

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