Association Briefing December 2017

AB Feb 17It’s December again and can you believe it’s almost Christmas?! So what has your Association and its Members been doing during the year? 

At the time of writing I am about to travel with our President to San Francisco where we opened our first USA Chapter earlier this year, and the members have organised our first USA CABE Conference focusing on Standards for Healthcare Design. This follows our success in opening our first Chapter in China earlier in the year.The Hong Kong Chapter is arranging CABE’s Annual Dinner and the Malaysia Chapter is finalising a CABE Conference, both in January 2018. With more new Chapters planned in 2018 we are becoming a truly international membership organisation. However, we are not losing sight of our UK membership and continue to support our excellent Regions’ initiatives including for some, new Regional Conferences in addition to the regular CPD events. Our first Regional Conference in Wales was held near Cardiff, Southern Regional Conference in Winchester, Eastern Regional Conference in King’s Lynn, Yorkshire and Humber Regional Conference in Hull, and both Northern and Southern Ireland came together to hold a joint event near Dublin. All events were successful and will be an annual feature for the Regions for future years, adding to those established previously in the South West and Northern Regions and even more Regional Conferences for 2018.

The planning is complete for a much wider range of training programmes to take place next year and more of our well regarded Webinars. 

Our 2017 Annual Conference was another successful event this year and will be held again in 2018 at Chesford Grange, Kenilworth. It was very unfortunate that speakers’ views on one part of the sector were inappropriate and not the views of CABE.

The Annual Awards took place after the Conference dinner: New Build winner – The Kimmeridge Trust for the Etches Collection; Preservation and Conservation winner – Simic Associates for 100 High Street, Bedford, Highly Commended – Diocese of Westminster for St Monica’s Priory RC Church; and Sustainability winner –South West College Centre for Renewable Energy and Sustainable Technologies (CREST).

The CABE website has had extensive work carried out to improve its aesthetics. We have appointed a PR company to work with us in raising the profile of the Association, its Awards, and its members.

It’s always a pleasure to see students on our Accredited Degree and Diploma courses completing their studies and awarding the Best Student in the Final Year with a CABE Prize, and this is increasing in number each year as more Universities and Colleges request accreditation of their courses.

All areas of our membership, from student to Chartered, are continuing to grow, together with an increasing number of academic partners.

We continue to collaborate with other professional bodies on a number of initiatives including dual promotion for events, pilot joint regional events and mapping of key competencies.

As with all organisations, we have had to keep our IT system up to date with investment in new servers. 

We have made excellent progress with the Engineering Council in 2017 and we have now been awarded a provisional Licence. In order for this to become a Full Licence we have to change our Charter Byelaws, and in 2018 there will be an EGM where two-thrids of Chartered Members voting need to agree to the Charter changes. If the response is positive this will lead to CABE being able to interview its members for Chartered Engineer (CEng) or Incorporated Engineer (IEng). Please attend your Regional AGMs in the New Year to fully understand the proposed changes and when voting online for the EGM please ensure your wish is known. Since gaining our Royal Charter we are increasingly invited to sit on Government reviews and contribute to other organisations through committees and responses to consultations. Additional member benefits have been introduced during the year and can be seen on our website. 

Our Jobs Board is also being used much more as is our online shop. One of the benefits of membership which the majority of members raise as important to them is the monthly publication Building Engineer. Whilst looking through the archives recently I came across Vol. 1, No. 1 of The Parthenon dated October 1926, the predecessor to Building Engineer, which ran articles on The Association Origin and Policy, Greek Marbles, Inexpensive Methods of Building, The Functions of a Quantity Surveyor, The Measurement of Spot Work and The Preservation of England’s Relics. In those days the publication was only 20 pages, not the 56 of today, and had Major GB Jones Athoe as the Secretary (CEO). Looking back over the work of IAAS, predecessor to ABE (CABE), I can see the excellent work that the members did in establishing the Association and its Journal to ‘provide the necessary medium for the exchange of ideas, the formulation of policies, the discussion of technical matters and even the airing of grievances recognising that one of the main objects of the Association is to bring together the members of the allied professions, Architects, Surveyors and Quantity Surveyors (now much wider membership), meetings at which lectures could be delivered and debated upon, social gatherings to promote good fellowship, county branches (now Regions and Chapters) to cement local interests, were deemed essential to the fulfilment of the Association’s policy. But it felt that all these activities suffered from the same inherent disability: all the members scattered over England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and the Dominions could never be present together at a lecture, a dinner or a branch meeting. Such a gathering being physically impractical, it was thought a Journal would provide the necessary medium for overcoming these obstacles, and the Building Engineer today still meets that need. 

However, as in 1926 when the Association struggled to get members to find time to contribute to the publication, we still have that problem today. I would encourage all members to tell us about the projects you have worked on and, like our advice to potential members who have applied for their professional interviews, we would like to hear about all projects even those that have not necessarily gone to plan and how you have overcome difficulties to get back on track.

As part of your ongoing CPD, are you watching/contributing to the Webinars which have seen an increasing number of members participating. Our programme for 2018 will cover subjects such as Quality in Design, Flooding, BIM, Fire and Green Energy. 

I must give an update on the national tragedy of Grenfell Tower. As you will know, there was appointed an independent Taskforce who have now produced their first report after nine weeks’ consideration of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (RBKC) response.

RBKC failed its community on the night of 14 June and in the weeks following. Prior to that, RBKC was distant from its residents, highly traditional in its operational behaviours, limited in its understanding of collaborative working and insular, despite cross-borough agreements, and with a deficit in its understanding of modern public delivery. 

Following a significant change of senior leadership, RBKC is working hard to develop and deliver effective support and services to survivors and the wider community. It is doing this while undergoing a fundamental change in the way it delivers its functions and its organisational culture and allocating considerable resources. It is hoped that these recommendations will improve the success of the recovery programme.

Initial recommendations

There are four themes that are common to all the recommendations of the Taskforce:
• More pace – the pace of delivery needs to be increased
• Greater empathy and emotional intelligence – these attributes need to be put at the heart of RBKC recovery plans. On too many occasions there have been accounts from survivors and the wider community of poor treatment
• Skills – all Officers and Councillors need training in how to work with a community that has been traumatised
• Greater innovation – RBKC should be bolder than it has been in its response. 

If you would like to see the detailed recommendations which fall to the Council, Government and the  community, please e-mail me at

The years fly by and I have been CEO of the Association, ABE and now CABE, since 2011, and 2018 is the year when I will take it a little easier in so-called retirement. So, I will be moving on at the end of April 2018 and I know my successor, Dr Gavin Dunn, will take the Association to the next level.

John Hooper

Chief Executive