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Members must come first


I was disappointed to note that the spring professional reviews in London were displaced from Great George Street to the basement of the Methodist Central Hall (NCE 4 May).

While acknowledging that we may be able to earn more by renting out the facilities of our building, this is regrettable.

Great George Street is the headquarters of the Institution of Civil Engineers. If facilities are to be provided, they should be primarily to meet the needs of, and benefit, civil engineers.

The Professional Review is arguably the most pivotal moment in our careers and so the prime example of need and benefit for civil engineers that should be served by our own facilities.

One Great George Street may be a sought after and successful central London conference centre, but its operation as such should not be the prime object of the Institution. It is and should be a support to our role as a learned society and qualifying body. If it does not fulfil that function then the debate of previous years regarding the need for a central London headquarters will be revived once more.

In the case of Professional Reviews, if Great George Street is not to be used, then a more practical arrangement would be to base them in a suitable London venue or Home Counties hotel, as is already done in the provincial centres.

If Great George Street is to be operated as purely commercial venue, let us be clear about that. However, let us also be clear that moving support services out of London (as other Institutions have done) follows the same logic - ultimately even realisation of its value (as was the case with NCE).

For the record, I do not favour this approach. Great George Street is the headquarters of the Institution of Civil Engineers. It should function as such, serve its members' needs and benefit the profession.

P Harrison, 3 Belfry Drive, Hullavington, Chippenham, Wilts SN14 6QW

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