2008 Yearbook

u s e f u l I n f o r m a t i o n 75 capacity issues within the public sector. This relationship is not competitive but clearly complementary. IHBC has also played its role in fostering this relationship and this is also reflected in its own council. As we celebrate the tenth year of the institute, we can see the transition of the sector from its early base of conservation officers being at the core of the organisation to the membership being increasingly populated from the private sector. For instance, last year 57 per cent of Institute members were from the public sector and 35 per cent from the private sector. Furthermore, at Council out of the 13 voluntary branch representatives almost a third work in the private sector, showing an unplanned but welcome balance of representation between the sector at the highest decision-making level. Undoubtedly, this level of voluntary effort will be similarly reflected at the Branch level within organising committees. The benefits for members of the private sector in undertaking voluntary work in the IHBC are numerous. Amongst them is the professional value of being at the centre of a dynamic young organisation facing interesting challenges and opportunities, but also the opportunity to network with other professionals from across the nations and professional backgrounds, reflecting the broad church that the institute represents. There is also a business case for undertaking tasks such as business-planning, as skills learnt here are equally relevant back in the working world to the efficient running of a profitable and professional business. There are also the personal benefits of being involved and giving something back. When the register of interest is reviewed at each council meeting, it is always a revelation, and sometimes humbling, to note the amount of time council members give voluntarily to the sector as whole. Certainly, this is indicative of the activities undertaken by the wider membership and manifests a clear strength of the organisation not only in its wider public benefit, but also in its connectivity and ability to have an accurate picture of the health of the sector. Another of the IHBC’s great strengths is that it has never differentiated between the sectors of professional membership, and therefore helps bridge the divide that only actually exists in the mind. But this is not to say it doesn’t recognise the issues that both sectors face. Two important initiatives have emerged over the last year, which will hopefully be launched later in 2008: one of these will assist conservation officers groups at the county or regional level; the other is the Historic Environment Service Providers Recognition (HESPR) for the private sector and no doubt more about these will emerge over the coming year. A key aspect of the Institute is the importance it places on training and the continuing professional development (CPD) of its members, enforceable through the Institute’s code of conduct. Neither sector can exist or would be able to offer a professional and reputable service if the credibility of its skills and expertise were in question. IHBC’s CPD requirements form a central plank in this endeavour, illustrating the professionalism of the organisation. Providing opportunities for appropriate and cost-effective training is a challenge both sectors face. While there is often a clearer business case for training in the private sector, this often has to be weighed against the loss of potential fee income and the costs for the course itself. The public sector is constantly facing budgetary pressures, further squeezing smaller training budgets. The IHBC has long recognised this and has always offered cost-effective and relevant training, both at the national and especially at branch level. The IHBC annual school and conferences organised by London, North West and Wales branches, amongst others, are now ‘must- attend’ events which the Institute is increasingly supporting. In England, English Heritage also offers free events through its Historic Environment Local Management (HELM) programme, providing essential support to local authorities in meeting CPD requirements. Many of our members lead training for colleagues and encourage others outside the sector to attend. Many of the challenges and opportunities both sectors face in the immediate future relate to the heritage protection reform (HPR). The White Paper clearly brings forward a number of welcome changes, but it has also largely dodged, amongst a number of issues, both the need for a statutory duty to be placed on all public bodies to have regard to the historic environment in general decision- making and the matter concerning the proper management of conservation areas, as possibly our most freely- accessible cultural resource. It would be interesting to know what percentage of the population per day either lives, works, passes through or visits a conservation area, which I would suspect would be surprisingly high. Yet perhaps the greatest failure of the conservation movement to date is not getting the issue of holistic management and their proper resourcing on the Government’s agenda, nor even to address the issues raised by the former Labour peer Lord Kennet in his 1972 book Preservation on, amongst others, the establishment of conservation areas. When conservation specialists from both sectors and the different professions work together to promote proper resourcing and management – not only as a consequence of HPR, but as a response to it – the result will be not only better protection for the historic environment, but also the collapse of old prejudices that hampered that protection, We’ll know that the Institute has succeeded in its aims when we see the stereotypes of working in either sector laid to rest and professionals are able to move seamlessly from one sector to the other repeatedly throughout their careers, bringing their experiences and skills to bear, offering the best responses to future challenges. Perhaps this should be something we should all being working towards, whether as Full Members, Affiliates or Associates of the IHBC. Nathan Blanchard is the vice-chairman and branch representative for Wales. wales@ihbc.org.uk