I should like to correct a number of inaccuracies in Paul Hyett's article 'The debacle of the Code of Conduct' (aj 17/24.12.98).
To begin with, while it is correct that the arb code of conduct is being revised, it certainly does not amount to a 'complete rewrite' or an admission that the current code is massively defective. When the code was first published, the board undertook to review it after its first year. The process of review began in May, and following a full consultation period it is intended that a revised code will be published next year.
Achieving an appropriate code is a continuing and developing process. We will be reviewing it regularly so that we can build constructively on the standards and guidance given. Criticism of arb at this point in time is both unjustified and unfair.
With regard to the retention fee, all architects received a letter from myself with the annual report which explained the need for the increase for 1999. Briefly, the letter highlighted the arb's wider remit and the financial implications flowing therefrom in terms of start-up costs, particularly with regard to it, premises, education and increased complaints handling.
The arb takes its regulatory role and its statutory duties under the Architects Act 1997 very seriously, particularly in the vital areas of education and discipline. However, effective regulation requires investment and commitment by the profession if the confidence of the public and the government is to be maintained.
We are all conscious at the arb of the need to demonstrate value for money, so a finance committee has been put in place to closely monitor all expenditure.
The increase in the retention fee does not reflect any great bureaucracy, empire-building or rash expenditure - we are merely reacting to the realities of regulation in the 1990s. Without it, I believe the future for the profession is far more uncertain.
arb, London W1