For a number of years, the Institution has been indebted to Roger Sainsbury for the amount of time and effort he has given, particularly the demands on his time during his presidency.
It is therefore regrettable that Roger, having failed to overturn the executive board and Council decisions over the past two years, now feels it necessary to resign.
Members will know that I have consistently said that we have a broad church of membership, with differing views, and we must recognise this whenever possible. I was able to demonstrate this while chairing the task force on the vertical integration of BIET. I recommended a 'modified' level of Corporate status for BIET members, which has been overwhelmingly endorsed by members in the ballot.
What we must avoid is encouraging the worse excesses of exclusive elitism in our Institution, which has no place in a democratic society in the 21st century.
Far from rushing through the decision on single/dual membership, the debate, which lasted for more than a year, has been one of the longest on a single issue.
The charges that Roger makes regarding the processes of the ballot for Corporate status and the adoption of the principle of single/dual membership, recognising the higher standards required by SARTOR '97 for both Incorporated and Chartered Members, are not fact or the case as he describes them, but are considered interpretation and opinions based on a particular point of view.
This, of course, is not new, as Roger has vigorously pursued the issue sometimes obsessively by lobbying Council members personally, yet Council has been consistent in September, November and in December, my first Council meeting, when the decisions were almost unanimous.
As a result, Roger now feels that past presidents, succeeding presidents, vice presidents, executive board members, Council members and, through territorial members, the majority of active members are all wrong and he is right. This is a sad reflection of democracy within our Institution.
Turning from democratic resistance to the real issues of the day, I am part way through my presidential visits to the Local Associations, and I am constantly having reiterations of my presidential address thrust back at me.
'Why are we not moving quickly enough to become a modern, inclusive, progressive organisation, becoming relevant to our members and giving each and every civil engineer the opportunity for him and her to reach their full potential?'
These are some of the questions which our members are mostly concerned with, and rightly so, for if we do not become relevant and participate in the real issues of the day, then we risk extinction. We must therefore move forward with a real sense of purpose and move at a speed to keep up with the developing needs of the membership.
In conclusion, I am personally disappointed that Roger Sainsbury has resigned for a reason that I think is misplaced. I sincerely hope that in time he may reconsider and rejoin, for he will be very welcome.