THE ENGINEERING COUNCIL this week rejected criticisms that the structure of its proposed successor, Engineering & Technology Board (ETB), is undemocratic.
EngC bosses also forcefully dismissed suggestions that its reform plans, due to be set in place by early next year, face derailment by dissenting members of the council's Senate.
The Senate holds its first debate on the proposals next week, before taking a final vote in December. If adopted, the plans would see the ETB replace the EngC and take on wide ranging responsibilities for the promotion and regulation of the engineering and technology professions.
But some senators are threatening to campaign against the plans on the grounds that none of the board members are directly elected (News last week). Standards and qualifications will be controlled by a New Regulatory Body (NRB), two thirds of which will be from institutions with the rest from the ETB.
However, the ETB executive director David Worskett this week defended the policy: 'The ETB itself is not democratic and is not supposed to be, ' he said.
'The democratic process is in the place that is most appropriate, and that is the institutions.
'It is common sense that the institutions are bound into the regulatory process, and sitting on the NRB will be very senior members of the institutions, ' said Worskett.
'These proposals have the support of business and industry and all the major institutions, ' he said. 'It is the mainstream opinion that it is the right thing to do.'
The Institution of Civil Engineers this week endorsed the plans in a letter to all civil engineering EngC senators in advance of the debate.
'The Institution regards this as a very exciting development, ' said the letter from ICE chief executive Mike Casebourne.
'We must respond by ensuring that in future our democratic process is much improved to gather the opinions of our members in the local associations and engineering boards and pass them up through to the ETB . . . as part of the unified strong voice of the engineering profession.'
The anti-ETB lobby remains determined to fight on.