Institute could ignore results of district society referendum.

If the institute were to lose the vote on the restructuring of the district societies at the meeting on 11 July, the council will only have to ‘take on board’ the results, but ‘constitutionally it is not binding’.

The news will come as a blow to campaigners who have sought to stop the institute implementing its new regional structure. ‘It would be like the government ignoring the result of a referendum on the euro,’ said district society campaigner Don Heady. ‘Members must have the ultimate power,’ added Heady, co-organiser of the district society meeting.

The added expense of breaking contracts for new offices and staff would also be significant given that the institute’s annual report already unveiled operating losses of £600,000 for 2000.

Peter Wyman, deputy president, said: ‘Constitutionally it’s not binding, but we wouldn’t shrug it (results) off. If we lose on low turnout, we’ll have to think very carefully about it. We’re hemmed in by financial constraints.’

The revelation came as the institute celebrated the launch of its 10 regional business centres, intended to mirror the government’s regional development agencies and encourage entrepreneurialism among chartered accountants.

Speaking at a reception, Alan Johnson MP, new DTI minister responsible for the regions, said: ‘I look forward to seeing the profession’s new regional presence go from strength to strength.’

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