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Frustrated Whitby sparks ICE debate

News

ICE VICE president Mark Whitby has been threatened with disciplinary action by the ICE for bringing the profession into disrepute, it emerged this week.

Then ICE president Roger Sainsbury issued the written warning after a column by Whitby in NCE criticised ICE Transport Board chairman David Bayliss for comments published in the national press which the vice president claimed 'blamed others' for the past errors of municipal engineers (NCE 7 October).

Sainsbury's letter warned Whitby that he was in danger of damaging the profession and threatened disciplinary proceedings should he step out of line again. Sainsbury this week refused to comment.

It appears unlikely that the restriction still applies to Whitby now that Sainsbury's presidential term has ended. ICE chief executive Mike Casebourne said he was unaware of the letter and that it was a matter between Whitby and Sainsbury.

Whitby - set to become the youngest ICE president for 136 years in November 2001 - told NCE that he would be happy to face a public disciplinary hearing if he had legal representation.

Whitby claimed the letter was one of many frustrations he experienced in the first year of vice presidency. He said: 'The question is: Does the Institution really want me? After the last year it is quite possible that it does not want me to become president and that concerns me.' However, Whitby made it clear that he still wants and intends to become president next year.

He added: 'Seeing how Great George Street works close at hand has been a depressing process. The ICE needs to be more relevant to its members or it is going to be in serious danger. It has become a necessary irrelevance.'

Top of his concerns are that initiatives to widen membership and lower the age graduates become members - which he had been asked to drive forward - had become stuck in the ICE's executive committee.

'None of these programmes was driven through last year which is enormously frustrating,' he said.

Other concerns include the lack of public openness at ICE Council and executive meetings, the lack of accountability over the 'expensive' failure of the ICECOLD database system and the 'visually illiterate' and old-fashioned style of the Institution.

ICE chief executive Mike Casebourne welcomed Whitby's attempt to 'stimulate debate'. He said: 'The views of a forward thinking man such as Mark are always welcome and valuable.'

He added: 'I am also frustrated by the lack of progress in recent professional development initiatives. They have taken time because proposed changes have to be agreed by such a wide number of people. The initiatives will crystallise soon and changes to the rules will follow.'

Casebourne concluded: 'The president (Professor George Fleming) and I are of a mind to be more open in the way we present changing policies to members.'

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