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Tory shadow feels election heat

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Prominent members of the architecture profession have expressed a vote of 'no confidence' in shadow planning and housing minister John Hayes.

Some of the profession's most high-profile figures have questioned the Conservative MP's ability to address their concerns in the run-up to a tightly fought election on 5 May.

Many have reacted with frustration to both his architectural opinions (AJ 14.4.05) and his voting preferences for the last term of this parliament.

RIBA president-elect Jack Pringle led the chorus of dissent by saying: 'Some ministers are more sympathetic to the views of the RIBA, and better informed, than others. It sounds like we have a lot of work to do with John Hayes.'

In response to Hayes' comment that 'much of what was built in this country between 1955 and 1995 wouldn't be missed', Future Systems' Amanda Levete said: 'What frustrates me about these MPs is that they have no passion for their brief. They're not even that knowledgeable or interested in their subject. And I find that disappointing.'

Parliamentary-record Hansard reveals that Hayes, who is contesting the Midlands seat for South Holland and The Deepings, has voted against equal gay rights in the last parliament, in favour of the Iraq War and against the fox-hunting ban.

He is one of the least likely MPs to contest the Conservative Party line and, on the register of members' interests, he has the third highest additional costs allowance out of 658 MPs in the Commons.

The student lobby has also chimed in, with Mark Physsas, of architecture student group Archaos, saying: 'I wouldn't be happy with someone like that taking decisions for us as architects. Architecture students as a whole vote in line with what students nationally believe.

'Maybe if the Tories got elected, they would introduce something worse than top-up fees, as they certainly seem very ill-informed about it at the moment,' he added.

And David Dunster, emeritus professor at Liverpool School of Architecture, said he could not accept that someone with Hayes' views could be planning minister. 'I don't know how we can vote for any of these people at the moment,' he said.

'I wouldn't vote for him, I don't vote for Tories. I'm having trouble voting for my local MP because she was for the Iraq War. I find that stupendously sick.'

by Rob Sharp

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