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RIBA tells councillors not to talk to the press

  • 5 Comments

The RIBA has told all its newly elected councillors not to speak to the press

As part of its induction programme new councillors are now being advised against talking to the media and told all communications should go through the RIBA’s press office.

According to councillors, they were told ‘there is no such thing as off the record’ when it comes to the press.

One councillor told the AJ: ‘I’ve been running my own business and talking to the press for forty years. The RIBA won’t stop me from talking to you.’

While current national councillor John Assael, said he was ‘dissapointed’ by the move.

‘They are being heavy handed. If it is confidential then that is clear. But general matters should be communicated to the press. Elected councillors have a duty to get the message out there’, he said.

‘The assumption is that it is all negative. But what if we actually want to say something good about what is happening in council – does that have to go through them too?’

A spokesperson for the RIBA, said: ‘New RIBA Council members are given a detailed induction on their role.

‘Some of this induction naturally covers standard trustees’ responsibilities with regard to confidentiality, including commenting to the press.’

  • 5 Comments

Readers' comments (5)

  • Portland Place staff should remind themselves periodically that the RIBA does not belong to them, but to its members. Councillors are representatives of those members and staff are responsible to them, not the other way round. The instruction as to whom councillors may speak is a piece of impertinence which should be ignored as a matter of principle, as it certainly will be in practice.

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  • The box tickers, clipboard merchants and "advisors" are taking the world over. Just look at some architectural debates and style wars in the past. Imagine if you tried gagging MPs- now wait a moment....

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  • Chris Roche

    This is not the first time RIBA Councillors have been advised at an induction session that they were not allowed to speak to the Press. I was advised the same when elected and advised the RIBA I had a mandate from the membership to speak up on their behalf, and at times that involved speaking freely to the Press. I was subsequently barred from attending RIBA events at the House of Commons together with my RIBA paired MP - Jeremy Corbyn who clearly does not agree with being gagged either.
    Chris Roche Founder 11.04 Architects / Former Deputy Chair RIBA London

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  • david walters

    This censorious attitude is so wrong! The RIBA staff need a stiff warning to back off!
    As an urban designer who works always in public venues, I see every day how open communication on design and environmental matters is essential to a flourishing dialogue -- and better design. It's quite correct that if you speak with press, TV, or other media, nothing is off the record. So don't talk about confidential issues, but everything else is fair game and should be out in the open.
    David Walters
    Professor Emeritus of Architecture and Urban Design
    University of North Carolina at Charlotte
    USA

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  • Ben Derbyshire

    I have been challenging my fellow RIBA Council members to consider a cultural change at RIBA. My working title for this shift is:

    ‘A members’ institute for the advancement of architecture’.

    I'm not precious about the words but however articulated, the shift ought to allow members to take the lead more - in the Institute, in society and in the competition for new members as part of the Institute's approach to marketing. To put it another way, rather than the Institute Leading Architecture, Architects should take the lead in the Institute.

    It's an idea that is not just about allowing members rather than the executive to voice the communications of the Institute. It might also manifest in a whole variety of different ways:

    • A shift of priority to supporting practices in their local markets - letting a thousand flowers bloom.
    • An outreach strategy that promotes diverse and innovative practice as much if not more than the stars.
    • A new status for members working groups – the engine room of the Institute.
    • A focus on members’ contribution to research and innovation for the Practice or a new committee.
    • A plan for the development team built on cross cutting collaborative research amongst practitioners.
    • Debate and discourse in the Institute amongst leading and new practitioners about new forms of practice.
    • A register of practitoners to speak for the Institute on different topics and themes.
    • A promotion about architects leading in public life and commerce.
    And so on.

    I'm trying to feed this thinking into the formulation of the Institute's strategy for 2016-20 due to be voted on at the December Council meeting.

    Comments - and any support - gratefully received!

    Ben Derbyshire
    Managing Partner HTA Design LLP
    Chair, The Housing Forum.

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