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ARB Reform Group draws up plans to force down retention fee

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The ARB reform group has vowed to flex its muscles to drive down the cost of the annual retention fee.

A fortnight ago the group's five members walked out on a confidential board meeting leaving the organisation's decision-making process in tatters (AJ 20.07.06).

These same elected members are now threatening to repeat the move in a bid to slash the yearly retention fee, bringing the amounts back to 2002 levels.

According to top-secret proposals revealed to the AJ yesterday, the group are proposing a possible reduction in the fee by five per cent, followed by a further cut of 10 per cent in 2008 and then an additional 10 per cent drop the year after.

The plans will come as another body blow to ARB chairman Humphrey Lloyd, who has heavily criticised the actions of the group which is set on paring back the work of the board.

Worryingly for Lloyd, it is understood that unless the ARB can fix next year's fees level when the board reconvenes in September, the organisation will have no power to collect the money.

And one of the five reformers, George Oldham, believes that if the group is not listened to, the members may have no choice but to walk out of the meeting, potentially leaving the board inquorate.

He said: 'If we feel the act is being misinterpreted and that [a decision] will cost the profession something it shouldn't have to pay, we would certainly consider leaving.

'We just want a discussion, but if our voices continue not to carry much weight our only option could be to withdraw from the meeting.'

by Richard Waite

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