ONE OF Britain's leading building industry clients has publicly resigned from the ICE, and branded it out of step with current efforts to reform the construction industry.
Slough Estates construction general manager Dr Bernard Rimmer said engineers should spend their time and fees on Egan-inspired pan-industry bodies like the Design Build Foundation and Movement for Innovation.
Rimmer, who became a member in 1971, made his resignation public last week to a packed audience of construction professionals attending the launch of the Design Build Foundation's new registration scheme.
Urging other engineers to follow suit, he said the ICE had failed to help the industry respond effectively to the demands of Sir John Egan's drive for efficiency.
'The ICE does not make any material difference to the way that the industry works,' Rimmer later told NCE . 'By just looking after a narrow group of disciplines, the Institution is not moving us on as an industry.'
He added: 'Institutions depend on the exclusivity of their membership and create real barriers to improvement. My advice is for people to get alongside the Movement for Innovation.
'The image of the industry in the eyes of youngsters is not that good. Personally, I do not need to be Chartered to do my job.'
Pan-industry bodies such as M4I, of which Rimmer is a board member, and the DBF, whose registration working group he chairs, allow professionals to work closely together to tackle the industry's problems, he said. 'We have the whole lot in our teams. It is much more effective than anyone sitting in their institutional ivory towers.'
'The Egan wave is on its way - you just cannot argue with simple principles. People are now realising the huge strides that other industries have made,' he said. 'Egan has changed the way I run my business.'
Rimmer also complained that even when the ICE or similar single discipline bodies or representative groups like the Construction Industry Council did attempt to tackle industry reforms, it was usually done from an individual, vested interest point of view.
CIC chief executive Graham Watts rejected Rimmer's claims and argued that although the CIC always served its membership, it was done to benefit clients and the industry as a whole.
'Our membership is so wide and diverse that it is very difficult for us to have self interest,' said Watts. 'I don't think Bernard Rimmer knows what he's talking about - I'm not aware we've ever had a conversation with him about the CIC.'
ICE President Roger Sainsbury also rejected Rimmer's comments. He said that the ICE had strongly supported the Egan initiative from the start.
'We have a broad church which embraces clients, contractors and consultants and we cultivate and enjoy our links with other parts of the construction profession through bodies such as the Construction Industry Council,' said Sainsbury.
'We find the value that our members gain from the ICE is in direct proportion to what they are prepared to put in,' he said.
'We have no record of Mr Rimmer having made an active contribution. According to our registry, Mr Rimmer was in no position to resign as his membership lapsed 18 months ago.'