Institution of Civil Engineers president Paul Jowitt today assured Council that the recent concerns raised by associated societies over room hire and support services would be addressed.
He told Council that he had met with representatives from six societies today, after they had threatened to invoke a special general meeting of the Institution to challenge Council’s decision to reduce financial support.
“We have found a way forward which will involve working to find a solution over the next three months,” he told Council. “The current service level agreements will continue but we will return a paper to Council on 2 March with a proposal.”
The meeting was prompted by complaints from a number of associated societies including the British Dam Society, the Society of Earthquake and Civil Engineering Dynamics, Offshore Engineering Society and the Railway Civil Engineers Association about the ICE Council’s decision last May to decrease financial support for their activities (NCE 19 November).
They raised alarm at the ICE’s proposal to reduce the subsidies for room hire charges and support in the 2010 budget and some had warned that would be forced leave the ICE as the charges were too high.
This week a number of associated societies followed up their concerns by threatening to invoke ICE bylaw 99 which enables a special general meeting to be called with just 60 signatures from members.
Several Council members reported that they had also received comments and concerns from members over the issue. They urged the ICE to address the concerns and reconsider the funding cuts, not least as they only represented £55,000 of the ICE’s annual budget of around £15M.
“Associated Societies are so important that it is necessary to keep them attached to the Institution,” said Council member Robert Freer. “If we make them uncomfortable they will go elsewhere. While we have them in the building it is a very strong technical asset.”
Peter Rennison added: “While there must be an acceptance of the realities, we need to send out a good public relations message.”
Jowitt agreed that the societies were a valuable part of the ICE’s function and said following today’s meeting he was confident that a satisfactory agreement over future charges would be reached within three months.
“I hope that I have reassured Council that we are taking this issue seriously,” said Jowitt. “Working with our friends - and I do mean friends - in the associated societies we will reach a satisfactory agreement.”
He will now meet with all the associated society chairs on 21 December to start to broker a deal to resolve the issue. He added that the whole point of the latest meeting was to ensure that they felt valued by the ICE.