The campaigners, who forced the meeting over plans to revamp the infrastructure of the 22 societies, lost their resolutions by 67% to 33% in a vote of around 22,000 of the institute’s 115,000 or so members.
But Don Heady, co-organiser of the campaign against reform, vowed to fight on and threatened to take the issue of how the vote was conducted to court.
Expressing disappointment at the outcome of the vote, he said: ‘We are not happy with the bully boy tactics employed by the institute in this area. We warned from the outset this is what we were going to do.’
ICAEW president Michael Groom, who announced the result of the vote at today’s lengthy and sombre meeting, said the institute had taken the advice of lawyers and felt everything had been handled fairly and legally.
However, some of those who attended the meeting expressed concerns. A technology company FD, Andy Jennings, one of the few members not wearing a suit, said: ‘This is the first time I’ve come to an egm or any special meeting. But I wanted to express deep disppointement at the design of the ballot papers.’I came because I sent an email to Peter Wyman (ICAEW deputy president) who didn’t respond sufficiently.
‘I get the feeling that we are talked at rather than with. We were treated more like children. I’m going to vote for the resolution on the basis that I want to be treated as an adult.’
He received the biggest round of applause at the two-and-a-half hour meeting.
The egm was the culmination of an acrimonious fight that pitted the weight of the institute’s national officers against a small but vocal band of pro-society dissidents.
The controversial plans first came to light last year when the institute outlined proposals to revamp the network of 22 societies, replacing their infrastucture with 10 regional bodies.
Arrangements for the restructuring have already started, with some contracts for new offices and staff already signed. A reversal of the policy could have incurred significant costs for the institute.
At the meeting, institute deputy president Peter Wyman said: ‘This isn’t about damaging or abolishing district societies, it’s about the effective management of the institute’s resources. It’s about being effective.’
He added:’We will go on with constant improvement to get it as near right as we can.’
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