Scottish architecture chief quits days after revolt was revealed

Neil Baxter has led the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland for the last 10 years.
Neil Baxter has led the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland for the last 10 years.
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The figurehead for the architectural profession in Scotland has quit his job suddenly - days after a damning open letter calling for an overhaul of his historic organisation.

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland has announced that Neil Baxter, its secretary and treasurer, has stepped down with immediate effect.

He was appointed 10 years ago by the Edinburgh-based body, which was set up in 1916.

More than 150 of the country’s leading architects last week raised concerns about “a lack of effectiveness, poor governance and insufficient accountability in Scottish architecture’s professional body.”

They launched a campaign, entitled A New Chapter, demanding an independent review of RIAS to ensure “transparency, accountability and a new progressive future.”

The campaign’s open letter was critical of the “self-satisfied torpor and bunkered closed-up-ness that afflicts the RIAS” and called for a new “culture of openness and inclusivity” within the body.

It added: “We would like to see much of the old establishment give way to a more representative group, with a better balance

of younger and female members, and a new commitment to our responsibilities to society to better face the challenges in front of us.”

Stewart Henderson, the president of RIAS, had earlier rejected claims that the body was operating in a “secretive and autocratic” manner and calls for it to publish the results of a series of internal reviews.

He told the campaigners: “There has been no attempt to cover up investigations, however there are legal reasons why information has not yet been shared in full.”

However a statement from RIAS today said: “The Royal Incorporation has agreed to the request from Neil Baxter to leave the organisation after 10 years of service.

“Neil will be standing down as of today and the senior management team at the RIAS will continue to deal with all matters relating to the business of the Incorporation.”

A statement from A New Chapter said Mr Baxter's announcement "raises more questions than answers" over the governance, finance, strategy and relevance of RIAS.

A spokeswoman said: "Over the past few months A New Chapter has seen a surge in positive thoughts and ideas about what a progressive, 21st century organisation for architects in Scotland might look like, how it might behave and what it might do.

"We now look to our president and representatives on the RIAS council to answer our ongoing questions and now, to clarify why the secretary and treasurer has tendered a sudden resignation."’