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Reformers tell RIAS to halt search for new boss

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The troubled Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has been urged to stop the process of choosing a new chief executive by a group calling for institutional reform

Neil Baxter quit as secretary and treasurer of the RIAS in November. The body said in its Winter Quarterly publication that a ‘new CEO will be recruited shortly’.

But a group of Scottish architects known as A New Chapter has called for clarity over the incorporation’s top-salaried job, and for major reform before it chooses a new boss.

This month A New Chapter published a five-point reform plan calling for the RIAS to ‘represent members, their finances and their interests in an open, transparent and accountable way’.

Now the group has urged the process of choosing a new chief executive to lead the RIAS be put on hold.

‘We are told that a search has commenced for a new CEO,’ said a spokesperson from A New Chapter. ‘This is extremely precipitate, and needs to be delayed until a clear role, within a repurposed organisation – that is affordable and commensurate with benchmarked roles elsewhere – is defined.’

In November last year, RIAS president Stewart Henderson wrote to A New Chapter defending separate internal RIAS reviews of salaries, probity and management practices.

But the group – which includes RIAS members and fellows Malcolm Fraser, Chris Platt and Jude Barber – hit back, claiming that conflicts of interest prevented the reviews from delivering the reforms necessary to improve the running of the organisation.

In an email sent to its members in December, the RIAS admitted that a ‘system of decision making [had] developed that [was] not supported by a robust policy framework’ and that the findings of a recent governance review had ‘identified a lack of structured governance and accountability’.

In Winter Quarterly, Henderson said: ‘At a special council meeting in November, council agreed to the request of the secretary and treasurer to leave his employment.

‘The RIAS has grown and prospered over the period of Neil Baxter’s time. There is some unfortunate and ill-informed comment in the media regarding this development. A new CEO will be recruited shortly taking cognisance of the developments in the governance of the incorporation.

‘We are now looking to go forward as a refreshed organisation with work continuing on our review of our governance and the ongoing development of our five-year strategy document 2018/2023.’

Just before Christmas, Police Scotland confirmed it was making enquiries into allegations of financial irregularities at the RIAS. Earlier in December, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator began its own formal probe into aspects of the running of the 101-year-old body.

RIAS has been contacted for comment.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Perhaps the AJ can enquire how much ‘cash’ reserves this charitable trust should have c/f with what is currently available before they start adverting for another CEO.

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