Landscape Instutite Library and Archive

I attended the meeting of the Landscape Institute yesterday, held to discuss the future of the Library and Archive, which is threatened with disposal. Many people remarked on what a pleasure it was to have a general LI meeting – and what a pity that it had to have a negative objective: to stop the disposal of the LI Library. When I moved to London in the early 1970s there used to be regular general meetings of the Institute at Carlton House Terrace. A friend remembers playing musical chairs with Sylvia Crowe, Brenda Colvin, Cliff Tandy,  Bodfan Gruffyd, and others.  It was appropriate that Hal Moggridge, who also attended these meetings, was the first to speak in support of the Library and Archive.  Since the Chapters/Branches were formed the community has lacked well-attended general meetings. Our predecessors would be pleased that the points made at the general meeting on 22 January 2009 were more positive than negative.

There was strong support for the principle of retaining the Library and Archive in the ownership and custody of the Landscape Institute. To some, it felt like keeping family photographs: one may not look at them very often but one wants to know they are there. They are our heritage; they define our identity; they are the seed from which the organization will grow.

There was strong support for the principle of re-directing the Landscape Institute’s administrative energy towards the exertion of influence on public policy. Having been urging this change since 1990, I was very pleased to hear people speak in its favour. The economic recession, which was officially recognized this morning, makes the task urgent.

There is an appreciation that the LI Council and Secretariat have become detached from the membership. The LI is spending too much money on administrators. They are not landscape architects and they do jobs which used to be done by members working as volunteers. This is expensive and, as ever, a volunteer is worth ten pressed men or women.

Here is my own suggestion:  the LI should hold another General Meeting to formulate ideas and set the agenda with a series of Policy Statements, as Geoffrey Jellicoe did in the even darker days of the 1940s and 1950s. People can speak with passion at meetings, making the task of writing the policy statements simpler and faster. Instead of a few glossy documents on vague topics we should issue monthly press releases accompanied by two good illustrations and two sides of A4. The Friend’s Meeting House would be a good venue for a Policy Meeting.

58 thoughts on “Landscape Instutite Library and Archive

  1. Robert Holden

    The chair of the LIbrary and Archives Committee appointed by Council, Joe Watkins, to take care of the Library voted at the meeting for disposal of the Library. Joe you should stand down: given your stance. There is concern that the Institute administration is going to remain in the hands of those who adopted a policy of expansion and continued growth as if recessions never happened now wish to throw away its heritage.

    There is also concern that our new Chief Executive Alistair McCapra advised the meeting that a charity’s reserves should be set at 25% of annual income while as Dominic Cole pointed out normal practice is 50% to 100% of annual income. I have a concern that Council and Executive are not open to their membership (how much of the goings-on of last night will be accurately reported in “Landscape”.

    It was heartening that there was a goodish attendance, it was disheartening that so many were over fifty. The Institute is at a critical time, it needs its membership to support its but may be poised to lose the support of that membership.

  2. Koral

    I will keep this short as this is not in support of the LI, there is little I wish now about them and how they work as there is little they can offer me if anything at all. I am a creative person, a designer, an artist whatever that strives to find adaptable narrative solutions for our surroundings.
    I am not much for nostalgia but Tom I tend to agree, I have stapler that I don’t use a lot but when I need it I expect it to be there. Libraries are a hub of communities as highlighted in a study by OMA in the design of the Seattle Public Library.
    The debates that are engulfing the LI at the moment are highlighting the weak trusses even as a non member these still effect me, the LI are seen to represent what I do for a living, in this country if nowhere else, and it is this that effects my professionalism, this is what bothers me no matter how much I distance myself form their bad practise.
    A body should be formed, moving away from a body that has far too much a spread that nobody gets it not even ‘Landscape Architects’ separate from the LI a body that is true to the design of the spaces between buildings of urban design and creativity, based on new dialogue an adaptable body that can form geomorphic communities. We have entered the time when more people live in cities than in rural areas and communication is relentless, regardless of what silly level you qualified to you have a say. This banking led tsunami should be taken advantage of.

  3. Tom La Dell

    There was discussion at the meeting about the value of the library and archive for research but not much about its value for the future of the profession. The Landscape Institute will only continue to prove its worth, and represent members who have jobs, if it takes up the challenge of proving that it is the profession to find solutions to the conflicts between people and the landscape.

    The quality of thinking and intellectual integrity that underpin the standards and relevance of the profession come through control of this intellectual heritage and where it will lead in the future.

    Loss of day to day control of the library and archive will mean that the library and archive will not be part of the development of the profession – they will subside into a quiet backwater.

    We need a vibrant library that is much more widely accessible to the members and their day to day needs. Landscape Architecture is a knowledge based profession that should thrive on sharing ideas and good practice. What a dreadful message it wil be to policy makers and our clients if we say that we have given up thinking except on day to day matters that benefit us. That is not what a Royal Charter is for and is probably one of the reasons why so few young members are involved in the greater good of their profession.

    The landscape Institute needs to reconnect with its members.

  4. Mike Luszczak

    When I first heard of the closure of the library and archive a few months back, I must say I was shocked and very upset. I wrote to Alistair McCapra and got the ‘official version’ of the reasons which didn’t really make sense. For me, the body of information contained within it represents the collective thoughts and knowledge of the profession, our past and present. Without this we cannot move forward as a profession, you have to know where you came from to know where you are heading. As a member at the EGM rightly pointed out, without our intellectual capital we are no longer a profession, whether we have money or not.

    What now concerns me more is the serious financial situation the Institute finds itself in, and the way the library and archive was used as one of the main cost-cutting measures when in fact the situation is far more dire. As Brian Clouston pointed out, RIBA pay £270,000 per annum to have their archive housed at the V&A, so it seems unlikely that any savings would be made by moving the collection to another institution, and in any case if there were any savings possible this would not offset the huge hole in the finances we seem to have. More fundamental financial decisions need to be taken, and quickly.

    I want to know what the Institute is going to do about the situation, and actually to know how bad the situation really is, as we didn’t get any straight answers on Thursday evening, just some approximate figures. This is very very serious, and the membership as a whole need to be fully informed with all the facts so that collective decisions can be taken, otherwise we may well lose our Institute.

  5. Tom Turner Post author

    I think the LI should have held a General Meeting as soon as the problem emerged and asked ‘What do you want us to do?’. Council and the Secretariat behave in a way more akin to a lichen than a tree. They live in symbiosis without being rooted in the working lives of the membership. We need to consider whether a constitutional change is necessary. Comments very welcome!

  6. Mark Lutyens

    I have only just discovered this website – many thanks to Susan Lownthal for the suggestion. I agree with Tom: first, that the LI seems to have become increasingly alienated from its membership; second, that the LI should focus on influencing public policy (to which I’d add ‘… and its perception by the general public’): and third, that individual members are better value than ’10 pressed men’

    I am proud to call myself a Landscape Architect but whether or not I am a member of the Chartered Landscape Institute (or whatever it is now called) matters less to me. Unless I start to feel some sense of reconnection, I will query the value of continuing to pay my subscription. I cannot believe that I am the only one – and if so, then the LI’s problems are bound to get ‘a whole lot worse’

    I remember Tony Edwards paraphrasing JFK ”…ask not what the LI can do for you but what you can do for the LI …” – 15 years later, I wonder whether this is a position he still holds?

  7. Tom Turner Post author

    Mark has encouraged me to publish a more wide-ranging proposal for the future of the LI:
    Here are my proposals, intended for discussion:

    1) retain a small plush office in Central London for business which must be conducted in London (like an embassy in a foreign capital)
    2) purchase an inexpensive office near a railway station in the middle of the British Isles, to use for back-office functions and storage of the LI Archive. When funds permit, exchange this for a purpose designed building with a green roof and other inspirational examples of imaginative, beautiful and sustainable design details. This should be in a place where land and staff costs are lower than in Central London – and it should be so well designed that it appears in every publication dealing with early 21st century design. It should proclaim: THIS is what landscape architects can do for society.
    3) scan the archive and make it available online, perhaps making it a normal condition of acceptance for archival material that it is accompanied by a DVD with digital copies
    4) run the library as a postal service but only lending out items which (i) are in sufficiently good condition for the post (ii) can be replaced at the borrowers expense (eg from ) if they are lost in transit
    5) maintain links to digital books of landscape interest which are available online (eg from and )
    6) pay to have other significant library items scanned and made available online. This can be done relatively cheaply, as a bureau service, using an Elphel 323 camera which operates at a rate of 1,000 pages per hour.

  8. Penny Beckett

    As predicted, the new landscape Institute website is up and running and the old member’s forum, including all the ‘have your say’ comments on the LI library and archive, are now gone.

    1. Tom Turner Post author

      This feels like censorship to me! With all the snow falling on London someone must have considered it ‘a good day to bury bad news’. As George Santayana said: “Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it”

  9. Tom Turner Post author

    The Landscape Institute has opened a new discussion forum:
    and I have posted my initial commentat:
    In case it gets deleted or they change the software before you get there, here is what I said:

    While wishing Talking Landscape all the best, I regret its frosty birth, heralded by killing off the old Landscape Institute Discussion Forum. As George Santayana remarked ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’. We managed to save the library and archive, at the dead of night, but the Forum now resides in what Leon Trotsky called ‘the dustbin of history’. Family photographs are things to be treasured, even if one does not view them very often. The context of Trotsky’s famous phrase is interesting: ‘Someone once said that every form of government has one characteristic peculiar to it and if that characteristic is lost, the government will fall. In a monarchy, it is affection and respect for the royal family. If that is lost the monarch is lost. In a dictatorship, it is fear. If the people stop fearing the dictator he’ll lose power. In a representative government such as ours, it is virtue. If virtue goes, the government fails. Are we choosing paths that are politically expedient and morally questionable? Are we in truth losing our virtue? . . . If so, we may be nearer the dustbin of history than we realize.’ Next time someone proposes dispersing the Archive and Library, the Forum record of the issues we considered this time round will not be available. I believe our 5000 year history makes a significant contribution to making landscape architecture one of the world’s most important professions:
    Tim Waterman upbraids me for comparing the archive dispersal policy to Kristallnacht. He does not ‘remember the past’. The Nazi book burning took place in 1933. Kristallnacht was the ‘night of shattered crystal’ (November 9th 1938) on which over 200 synagogues were destroyed. The 1933 bonfires were of no importance, except as a symbol. They revealed an attitude of mind and an unwillingness to tolerate debate.
    What I actually said at the LI EGM was that ‘the events of the 20th century are too terrible to mention’. I did not want to hint at pogroms. The only individual I named at the LI EGM was the First Emperor of China (Qin Shi Huang, 259 BCE – 210 BCE). He has the great credit of having laid the basis for Chinese civilization and its tourist industry (with the Terracotta Army and Great Wall). But can anyone be found to defend his burning of all books, except those officially approved? I doubt if such a person could be found, even in the Zhongnanhai. China holds the First Emperor in such high regard that his own tomb has never been excavated. Nor, I guess, have the Chinese considered paying the V&A £270,000/year to look after its contents.
    Getting back to Talking Landscape, it looks as though the LI is giving the debate we hope will take place to the man who founded the brilliant but deceased browser, Netscape. It runs on Ning. This is the Chinese word for Peace, but I found the following comment on a Ning discussion forum: ‘As far as I am familiar with Ning, you are able to extract your users’ photos and videos via a script that I found somewhere here, but have never heard of extracting their usernames and all other things that are inserted into the database, which includes groups comments and conversations (practically all the text stuff). Even if you have access to the source code, like my case, you ain’t able to access these, simply because it is my assumption that Ning holds one huge database for all its networks, this is probably the case why you are able to login in every ning network with your ONE username and password. Hope that clears the things a bit, still would be interested to hear developer’s point.’ So, in David Bowie’s words, it may be ‘here today and gone tomorrow’. Meanwhile: who gets the Adsense revenue? Marc or the LI?

  10. Koral

    An interchangeable and progressive structure sparking for new generations of interested people. They should change their name from landscape to something less meaningless to something that incorporates the word urban, possibly urban institute.

    It needs to be open


    all inclusive

    and interesting

    Everything that it is not at the moment.

    You know what, everybody understands a designers role no matter what your background and so many people are interested to see and hear about progressive movements, the current structure of the landscape institute has not worked for a long time, what ever it is, it actually builds walls and stops any interested parties beyond its own self preserved social group from participating or criticising it. The old boy’s club has become a stronger tighter web. In order for it to become any success at all it needs to be completely transformed, open its self for improved dialogue of ideas allowing for a unique generation to take the batton. How else can it sustain an existence and maintain a fresh approach to or developing social demographic and environmental habit. Robert is right to point out what seems still old generation clan, the LI has hit a wall, Jo Watkins isn’t getting any younger neither are you Tom T. or Robert neither am I, we don’t get young that seems to be the way, at the moment the LI is not behaving like an organism, and it needs to regenerate, if it wishes to survive, a city is happy to absorb, adapt and evolve and use anything in order for it continue growth for what ever reason it exists. This refers to releavence, idology, dialogue and membership in order to generate action.

  11. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    I live in Spain and I have just become aware of what is happening at the Landscape Institute and I am astounded that such a situation would go unannounced and advertised for all the members to see.

    I am also amazed at the reaction of most members, who do not seem to think that this is a case for the police to step in and find out what has really happened with our money. Does anybody really believe that there was an “account management mistake”?

    Un believable!

  12. Tom Turner Post author

    I know many LI members who share your sense of shock and horror. The broader question is ‘how could it happen?’. And I think the answer is a lack of accountability to the membership. It is an organizational and institutional issue.

  13. Gabino Carballo CMLI


    I am going to post here a letter I have sent to the Landscape and Green Places Magazine. I also posted it in the Talking Landscapes site and it got removed, in the usually fascistic fashion that the LI has adopted in the last decade, on the basis of being “potentially libellous and being based on personal attacks”.

    Yes, it is personal: it was my money that they have being taken from me for years, even when I had little or none!

    Yes, I was angry when I wrote. Yes, I was emotional. Yes, I was ranting, but yes, I very much closer to the truth than the Landscape Institute wants me to believe.

    I have had a very lively exchange with the incumbent CEO, Mr McCapra. I will report on it in time. In spite of his best efforts, Mr McCapra’s helpful explanations have given me reasons to be ever so worried. I believe that he is capable, helpful and trying his best to save the day, but he is very much alone and misinformed by the members of the Council, who are wandering around in a fog of confussion. I do not believe that they run the institute at all, quite the opposite, I suspect that the marketing and Communications office does.

    Well, there it goes:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I have just received a Communication from the Landscape Institute regarding some fairly ugly financial difficulties. I have not heard about them before, but I am not surpised by it in the least. This kind of trouble has been brewing at the landscape Institute for quite a long time, specially since the people appointed to serve in it had, for a long time, a lot more to gain from being involved with it than they were able to offer in the way of service to their fellow members.

    In my opinion, the Landscape Institute has become an opaque and profoundly undemocratic institution where decissions have been taken on the self-agrandazing notions of a few, bent on apeing larger and more prestigious professional bodies. The Institution’s arcane working methods and ellection procedures have served to further some careers at the expense of members’ long term interests, whose real needs have been ignored. The absurd move to 33 Portland Street is a fine example. It would be sufficient to re-read the bombastic proclamations of the time, intended to justify such an clownish behaviour, to understand why we find ourselves scuttling out of such a grandiose location in search of a new “affordable home”.

    With regards to the expensive change in publisher, my view is that it may have been necessary at the time, but it was divisive and faintly vindictive of some memebrs seemed just to eager to bury Sir Jeoffrey Jellicoe’s legacy. He would be turning on his grave if he knew what a bunch of wannabes have done to his beloved profession.

    Breaking with the Landscape Design Trust weakened us as a profession as a whole. In spite of all the hype and the grandiose mumbo jumbo that goes for professional speech these days, we are still a small and largely irrelevant profession. Throwing decades of collaboration and free exchange of ideas out of the window in return for glossy presentation and property development clap trap was a bad idea and still is.

    With regards to the “mistake” in the management accounts, I personally “do not suffer from the tragedy of perfection”, so I am not one free from error. However, I served as voluntary accountant for a non profit organisation for twelve months. I spotted a big gap in the accounts to the extent of tens of thousands of euros. It took me months of worry and very late nights to work out what the heck was going on. I finally managed to get the accounts into shape and allocated responsabilities where they belonged. The lesson learned is that there is no such a thing as “wrong management accounts”. There is “mismanagement” only.

    During my long stay under the grey British skies, I learned a few things about landscape design but a great deal more about some of the best qualities one can hope for in any society: love for hard and honest work, personal integrity and dignity in the face of adversity, respect for facts, for other people’s views and freedom of opinion, willingness to back the underdog and to fight for things that are close to one’s heart without fear of unjust and destructive retaliation from the powers that be.

    These notions may not be all that apparent after the putrid and amoral legacy that some smarmy politicians and their financial accolites have left us, but they are still poignantly valid.

    I gain neither respect nor recognition in my own country for my LI membership: every cent I spent on it is, to all effects,wasted, but I have not given it up out of loyalty to my profession. Now, I feel that I must do the right thing and write to you calling for mass resignation at all levels in the LI. A public apology from a great deal of people is in order too. Calling the Police in would not be amiss either.
    Yours Sincerely,
    Gabino Carballo CMLI
    Barcelona, Spain

  14. Tom Turner Post author

    Gabino, I read you as meaning (1) some landscape architects have stood for council in the mistaken belief that it would further their own careers, instead of for selfless devotion to the greater good of the profession (2)Mr McCapra has done his honourable best in difficult circumstances (3) consideration should have been given to a police investigation of our late finance officer’s work (4) like all of us, you profoundly regret the way things have turned out for the LI – and wish the sun was more often to be seen in Britain’s grey skies.
    If my interpretation is correct, I see nothing libelous in your views.

  15. Gabino Carballo

    Tom, I believe that your understanding of my fractured English grammar is a particularly fine one. Sadly, the LI has become adept at extracting half-truths from whole misrepresentations of the facts. The notion of free speech has become both noxious and undesirable to the Intitutionalised types that run it. Thus, having somebody to point out potential areas for improvement (an possibly past mistakes) is just plain rude and I guess that, in their view, is libelous. Luckily, I am not over in London, otherwise they may have enjoyed a spot of good old-fashioned face to face slander from my parts.

  16. Gabino Carballo

    I guess that I am just late and after the event, but the truth is that I find amazing that the Landscape magazine and the Vista Newsletter no longer carry information relevant to me as a member. The last issue of Vista is a Joke. We live in cloud nine and we pay the price for it. I simply have no idea of what is going on. Ok, I live in Barcelona, but for the money we pay, at the very least, some information about the LI should be available in printed form through its official publications. This situation smacks me of denial and censorship.

  17. Gabino Carballo

    More on this issue: I have been banned from Talking Landscape.

    Apparently, my point of view is not welcome in such a select Forum. I would say that the Landscape Institute is losing its marbles.

  18. Tom Turner Post author

    Thank you for the clarification. I have put my interpretation of your views, and your confirmation, on the LI Forum. I wish the LI had published their own comment on your views instead of deleting your comments. Britain made many mistakes in the last millennium but one thing I am proud of is our contribution to the establishment of free speech and political liberalism.

  19. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    Thank you Tom,

    I will continue to comment about the LI and my exchanges with Mr McCapra on this forum. I am sad to say that the more I have learned about what is going on, the less I want to know. It all points in the direction of neglect of duties on the side of the Council. Not to mention that some decisions regarding the Accounts and the Archive seem to result from wanton self-sabotaging at the very least.

    I will also post in my own blog, even though is not Landscape related.

  20. Gabino Carballo

    Some more on the accounts for 2007 and 2009. In order to exemplify how lost and incompetent the Landscape Institute Council has become, I quote from the Financial Statements for 2007-2008:

    “In addition to the assets reflected above, the Institute has a significant archive of historic Documents, incluidng in particularly the Geoffrey Jellicoe Collection, and the Martin Jones Photo Collection. It has been decided not to attribute a value to these heritage assets as cost information is not available and it is not considered practicable to reliably value them”

    What? Not even one pound sterling? Not even the cost of yearly safe storage in a vault?

    This was signed by Neil Williamson the 27th of October of 2008, weeks before the LI attempted to dispose of the Archive against its members wishes.

    To me, it looks like asset stripping of the worse kind, through the back door, disguised in the financial statement as a preparation for a quick disposal on somebody’s lap, with fairly malevolent intention.

    Mr Williamson must resign now.

  21. Gabino Carballo

    more on the same theme: A little excerpt from one of my exchanges with CEO McCapra:

    Dear Mr McCapra,
    I am honoured by your dilligent response. You appear to have even more free time than I do, which is worrying. I very much disagree with most of your statement that the crisis is to blame for our situation. No Sir, the crisis has exposed the underlying defects in the structure of the LI, which as been oversized and out of focus for a long time. I am not saying that there is “wrong doing” in a criminal a corrupt way. I am saying that things have not been done properly and in accordance with the Member’s best interest, which is quite different. As you say ” the mis-accounting is only one part of a more complex picture which requires us to completely change the way we operate.”

    Please remember that this is not a business. It is a Professional Body. Our fall back position has to be solid. We cannot be in the possition we are in, now or ever. You will excuse me, but I have known about this crisis since early in 2008. I work in construction, and I noticed that something was not quite right a long while ago. Nobody foresaw its extent and speed, is true, but that does not explain why we are being made homeless. I am sure that our fall back position should be one that guarantees a bare modicum of stability for the Institute.

    You minimize the 87,000 but this appears as 100,000 quite prominently in the sheet I received. What is going on? How come that it is important to publicize but not really part of the accounts? As for the rental agreement “e.g. our landlord announced he was going to nearly double our rent “. I have not heard that one before. Why is he doing this? Where is that coming from? What happened to our long lease?

    I quote from the accounts documents:
    “Advertising sales and other commercial income began to slow down during the year (…) this represents a significant business challenge to be addressed in 2008-09” Yet, in the same year, the number of staff increased by 4 positions and its overall cost rose to 835,204 from 666,000. Just about reasonable until onelooks at the Item “Other Staff costs”: it more than doubled from 59,176 to 119,617. I am sure that there is an explanation for these wild increases for “other costs”, but it looks to me like somebody was having it large with my money!

    Not to mention another Item “Other costs” in point 11, that goes from 74,547 to 185,388. What is going on? Why were costs doubling without any probable explantion?

    Contingency plans for single sources of income include cutting back on non essential activities, not employing several members of staff just as you can see that a global recession looms. Two new members of staff were allocated to Communications and Marketing just that year before. When were these people made redundant? Before or after our archivist suffered that injustice?

    ETC, ETC,

  22. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    More on this ridiculous situation:

    Dear Mr McCapra,

    I believe that you are entering a particularly delicate territory. My message was demmanding and harsh. It does not justify censoring my messages and banning me. It may justify a warning notice. Nothing else.

    You must consider that the Landscape Institute is virtually bankrupt and homeless, and a great deal of my money it has gone towards its upkeep for years, even when I was unemployed. Emplyoees for the Communications department are doing a deplorable job at keeping us informed and they treats in a snotty fashion, when you know that they need to be reduntadnt as soon as possible to save our institute. I believe that it is easy for me to have reasons to be angry, and it shoul be easy to understand me.

    I did not issue threats not bullied anyone. That is just another misrepresentation of the facts and a lie. I must warn you, and the rest of people currently running the LI that you are beginning to exceed your attributions and violating my rights as a Member and an European citizen.

    I have already suffered an instance of bigotry and discrimination from the Landscape Institue through its publications. I am now suffering an instance of suppression to my right to free speech.You are helping me to build a pretty good case for the courts. I beg you to re-consider your position before I have no other avenues left other than the legal one. It will be expensive and costly in terms of time and money for all of us. You are run ing out of money, I am running out of patience.

    I remind you that Employees of the Landscape Institute are to serve Members, not the other way round. You are acting in accordance with people who want to suppress the truth about the events leading to the situation we are in, due to mismagement and, potentially, misuse of funds, according to the figures in the accounts audit. There are quite a few figures that I just have no explanation for and I am going to demmand a lot of explanations for them.

    I suggest that you choose very carefully what side you want to be in when all this comes to a head.

    Britain is still a country of law and individual rights. I intend to exercise mine to the full.

    Kind regards

    Gabino Carballo CMLI

    From: Alastair McCapra
    Cc: Paul Lincoln
    Sent: Tuesday, 17 March, 2009 12:30:37
    Subject: RE: A banned member has sent you a message on Talking Landscape

    Dear Mr Carballo

    You were banned from the forum because of the bullying and intimidating
    nature of your posting to a member of the LI staff.

    Alastair McCapra

    —–Original Message—–
    From: Talking Landscape []
    Sent: 16 March 2009 23:24
    To: Talk
    Subject: A banned member has sent you a message on Talking Landscape

    A banned member has sent you a message on Talking Landscape. Gabino
    Carballo ( writes:

    I would like to know why I have been banned from Talking Landscape. If
    there is a reason other that I have pointed out instances of rudeness,
    incompetence and wrongdoing on the part of the people who are supposed
    to run it.

    Gabino Carballo

  23. Gabino Carballo

    And the reply from Mr McCapra. He is entirely right when he says that staff should not be exposed to “intemperate outbursts”. For this I have apologized. Please notice that I get not further explanations on the accounts issue, and they roll down the shutters when I mention legal action with regards to my rights. A bad sign, if there is one.

    Dear Mr Carballo

    You are perfectly entitled to pose questions of fact to me and to expect that I will answer them truthfully within a reasonable time. You were equally entitled to post comments and criticisms of the Landscape Institute on our discussion forum until your behaviour demonstrated that you were not willing to exercise this entitlement reasonably. There are a number of postings on the Talking Landscapes forum from different contributors which attest to the fact that the moderation of the forum does not operate for the purpose of removing critical material.

    You posted one comment on the forum which I took down because it was abusive towards elected Council members. I advised you of the reason for its removal, and posted guidelines and a general reminder on the forum to try and avoid a similar situation arising again. Almost immediately however, you used the forum to embark on a personal attack on an LI staff member, harassing her with the threat of sacking and accusing her of ‘making large’ with your money. Neither as an LI member nor as an EU citizen do you have the right to use the LI discussion forum as a platform to publish venomous personal attacks or to bully and harass LI staff. The LI has a legal duty of care to its staff and this includes ensuring they are not exposed to this sort of intemperate outburst. If you employ staff of your own I certainly hope you would not expect your clients or anyone else to communicate with them as they discharged their responsibilities in the way you have with LI staff. Equally the terms of service set out by the company which hosts our discussion forum require us not to permit contributions of the tone of your postings.

    You are quite correct in saying that my function, and that of my staff colleagues, is to serve members. The interests of members are articulated primarily through the elected Council of the Institute and our main responsibility is thus to act as directed by our trustees. Serving members certainly does not mean that staff must meekly tolerate individual members threatening them with sacking, accusing them of financial impropriety or otherwise indulging in immoderate and unreasonable outbursts directed at them.

    If you consider my actions in removing your posts from the forum, or indeed any other actions I have taken, to be in violation of any law, you are of course entitled to seek remedy by the legal means you suggest. As is the norm in instances where legal action is threatened, I am now directing LI staff not to enter into any further correspondence or discussions with you. Please therefore direct any future communications with the LI secretariat to me. As I hope my previous responses to you have shown, there is no mystery about how the LI found itself in such a poor financial position, and neither the intention nor the need to mislead you or to conceal any material facts from you.

    Yours sincerely

    Alastair McCapra

    Chief Executive

  24. Gabino Carballo

    I have received legal advise to only state the facts. It is probably wise not to be carried away by my volatile temperament, and fight windmills. I quote from the Financial Summary , February 2009, I have received by way of explanation, in installments and ask questions, maybe somebody can clarify them for me:

    Why has the LI faced financial Problems?

    1. February 2008: an analysis of advertising revenue showed that it had fallen 65,000 short of budget, and a further 65,000 thousand income was lost when HM Revenue and Customs changed the standard of evidence on gift aid claims and the LI’s claim had to be substantially reduced. These two items consumed nearly half the Li’s cash reserves.

    I quote from the REPORT OF THE COUNCIL for the year ended 32 March 2008

    “Advertising sales and other commercial income began to slow down during the year, relecting the economic claimate and underlining the need for carefull business management. As advertising sales account for nearly 30% of the Institutes’s income, this represents a significant business challenge to be addressed in 2008-09”

    Note: There is no mention of a specific fall in “advertising revenue” whatsoever. It follows:

    “During the year there was an audit by HNRC which raised the possibility that members may have claimed subscriptions that formed part of the Charity’s Gift Aid claims as a deduction from their self employed taxable profits. As the HMRC Gift Aid audit in November 2004 did not raise this issue, HMRC agreed to honour all claims made up until the audit but asked the LI to change the administration to the scheme to ensure that members do not both make a Gift Aid donation and claim their subscriptions as a deduction from their self-employed taxable profits. In light of this, the Institute was only able to make a Gift Aid claim of just under 60,000, compared to 120,000 in previous years. Going forward, the Institute is projected to be able to claim just 20,000 in future years, which represents a substantial drop in gift aid income”

    Note: I see no evidence of change in criteria, only a dubious criteria on the part of the LI administration. Since when is it possible to claim twice for the same item? Why did not they get the proper advice? Is the Council not responsible for ensuring that the Institute is properly run and that their financial structure is sound?

  25. Gabino Carballo

    I quote from the Financial Summary, February 2009:

    2. September 2008: the audit for 2007-8 showed that the management accounts on which trustees had been relying were wrong to the extent of over 100,000. This consumed nearly all of the remainder of our cash reserves, meaning that we faced the general downturn with nothing to fall back on.

    I quote from the REPORT OF THE COUNCIL for the year ended 32 March 2008:

    “As these accounts indicate, the institute ended the 2007-08 financial year with a significant trading deficit. This is due to a combination of factors, of which the three most significant are: the Gift Aid audit referred to above, the general downturn in the economy which started to have an impact on commercial revenue, and issues for the Institute’s internal financial control and monitoring systems”

    Note: there is no evidence that the Gift Aid audit consumed “cash reserves” of any kind, only that it had an impact on the trading deficit. The accounts reflect the change in economic circumstances in 2007-008, well over a year BEFORE the recent events. As I understand it, this Audit was the SECOND to be carried out, as the first one for some reason, was not deemed valid. I have not been able to obtain the first Audit Accounts from the Institute or confirm their existence. The Audit mentions an “impact on commercial revenue”. However, the Notes to the Financial Statements show an INCREASE IN REVENUE, unless my understanding of them is entirely wrong, I can only see what I consider a huge increase in COSTS, for the year ending in 31 march 2008. In fact, Advertising and related activities increased from 596,432 in 2007 to 678,507 in 2008, and overall INCOME INCREASED from 1,063,044 in 2007 to 1,117,516 in 2008.

    I further my case with Mr McCapra’s assertion:

    “The extent of the errors in the management accounts was £87000.”(…)“£87k is two weeks’ expenditure as per the 2007-8 budget, so it would have given us a bit more time and flexibility to adapt to changed circumstances, but it would have by no means been decisive. As I say, the mis-accounting is only one part of a more complex picture which requires us to completely change the way we operate.”

    Am I making a fool of myself, or am I not being fooled by the LI?

  26. Gabino Carballo

    I quote from the Financial Summary, February 2009:

    3. October – February 2009 (sic): Drastic fall in advertising revenue.30% of our income came from advertising, mostly recruitment advertising. As the economy turned sharply down, recruitment dried up and clients stopped advertising. As a result advertising income 2008-9 will be more than 200,000 less than budgeted, and is budgeted to drop by another 200,000 in 2009-10.

    I quote from the REPORT OF THE COUNCIL for the year ended 31 March 2008

    There is nothing to report!. There are several months about which we know nothing between March 2008 and October 2008. The Auditors only comment on the future is “The Auditors have made a number of recommendations on what needs to be done in order to ensure a significantly better outturn for 2008-9, and the Council will be acting on these recommendations over the coming year“

    Note- I have not been able to obtain the recommendations, or any evidence that they have been followed.

  27. Gabino Carballo

    I quote from landscape Services Limited – Profit and loss Account – Year Ended 31 March 2008

    Turnover – 2007: 683,999 / 2008: 786,136
    Cost of Sales – 2007: 76,648 / 2008: 129,128
    Overhead Costs- 2007: 98,237 / 2008: 129,128
    Operating profit – 2007: 509,114/ 2008: 535,185

    Note: Operating Profit actually INCREASES in 2007-08 in spite of the fact that the cost of sales jumps nearly 50,000 and the Overhead Costs increases by more than 20,000. Had these two items increased in line with turnover, the Actual Turnover would have increased to well within 830,000. Cost of sales is good indicator of trouble in a company as it has a more direct effect on margins and profitability than overheads. It increases by more than 30% over 2007, which indicates a major problem in the way the operations are conducted.

  28. Gabino Carballo

    I quote from landscape Services Limited – Balance Sheet – Year Ended 31 March 2008

    Cash at bank & in hand- 2007: 63,430 / 2008: 20,728

    Net Current Liabilities-2007: (12,561) / 2008: (29,253)

    Note: The cash at bank and in hand is depleted by 42,000. The current Liabilities nearly TREBBLE over the same period. This indicates an operating problem that may, or may not be, related to the Gift AID issue. In my opinion, it is not related, as the Item 5 in Notes to Financial Statements -Ccreditors – Accruals&Deferredincome (where it should be) actually INCREASES from 103,164 to 110,069.

  29. Gabino Carballo

    I quote from landscape Services Limited – Notes to Financial Statements – Year Ended 31 March 2008

    2. Operating profit- Auditors Remuneration – 2007: 3,100 / 2008: 5,100

    Note- Fees to Auditors increase by 75%. Second Audit? Where is the first one?

    3. Tangible Fixed Assets – Additions – Furniture and Fittings – 2008: 20,600

    Note- That is a lot of furniture I would say. Doubles the Amount at April 2007- 13,965.

    5. Creditors – trade Creditors: 2007: 1,431 / 2008: 22,411

    Note- 50%. I guess that the cash for the furniture had to come somewhere.

    8. Annual Lease Commitments.

    Building Lease- The Landscape Services LTD has an annual commitment under a non-cancellable premises held jointly in the name of the company and its charitable holding company, Landscap institute, expiring in more than 5 years for 105,750 (2007: 105,750)

    Note- I am lost here. See Mr McCapra’s comments:

    “Even after preparing plans for restructuring on this basis, the plans had to be revised several times thereafter as e.g. our landlord announced he was going to nearly double our rent and advertising revenue dropped off much more rapidly than predicted. “

    I need help understanding what rental conditions the LI was really under.

    9. Ultimate Parent Undertaking and Controlling Party.

    (…) There was a net intercompany balance of 123,672 (2007: 177,263) due to the landscape Institute at the end of the year.(…)

    Note- This is a drop of 55,000 respect to 2007. In any event, not very significant, if we consider that only in furniture and fittings more than 20,000 were spent!

  30. Gabino Carballo

    I quote from landscape Services Limited – Schedule to the Profit and Loss – Year Ended 31 March 2008 (for the Information of the Directors only)

    Income- Total Income 2007: 683,999 / 2008: 786,136

    Note- Virtually every aspect of income increases between in the financial year. Advertising income is up by more than 30,000. Conferences and Seminars goes from 47,187 to 115,081

    Cost of Sales – Total Cost of Sales- 2007: 76,648 / 2008: 129,128

    Note- the cost of sales nearly DOUBLES. It goes up almost exclusively in the Conferences and Seminars line, by 53,000 approx.

    Gross Profit – 2007: 607,351 / 2008: 657,008

    Note- Gross Profit up 50,000 for the year.

    Overhead Costs – Rent – 2007: 59,530 / 2008: 44,876

    Note- Rent goes down by 15,000!!! I need help understanding this situation.

    Overhead Costs – Overall Premises Costs – 2007: 81,563 / 2008: 70,338

    Note – Over 10,000 in savings. I thought we were supposed to have lost lots of money!

    Overhead Costs – General Admin. Expenses – 2007: 13,024 / 2008: 46,370
    Overhead Costs – Total overheads – 2007: 98,237 / 2008: 121,823
    Operating Profit- – 2007: 509,185 / 2008: 535,185

    Note- The increase in overhead costs is due to a Bad debt Provision of 30,404 (from 8,380) and Sundry Expenses of 4,007 (from 989). Without these two items, the operating profit would have risen to over 555,000. That means 40,000 more, nearly half the alleged “misaccounting” incident. No reason is given in the accounts for this increase in the bad Debt provision.

  31. Gabino Carballo

    I quote from the CONSOLIDATED STATEMENT OF FINANCIAL ACTIVITIES for the Landscape Institute for the year ended 31 March 2008

    INCOMING RESOURCES- 2007: 1,733,266 / 2008: 1,879,263

    NOTE- Please note that INCOMING RESOURCES IS UP BY MORE THAN 100,000

    RESOURCES EXPENDED – 2007: 1,753,334 / 2008: 2,100,130

    NOTE- Please note the Vast difference between 2007 and 2008 for this item. 350,000 !!!!! Now, the Net Incoming/ Outgoing resources show a 200,867 deficit of 180,000 over 2007!!! Would you like to know where all that money has gone? Are you sure? It may be deemed libelous, rude and aggressive!. Please note, the actual increase in Resources Expended is 350,000!

    I quote from the Notes to the Financial Statements

    5. Membership and Examinations Expenditure – 2007: 734,091 / 2008: 870,684

    Note – the increase from 2007 and 2008 is in the region of 135,000, in spite of the fact that there are savings in every aspect of the Expenditure Described!!! Is this possible, yes if you consider that the Allocation of salary costs and Allocation of support costs rose by some 135,000!!! In one year! Wages themselves jumped from 533,537 to 629,992 (reasonable for the 4 extra employees that the LI is supposed to have employed on average over 19 staff in 2007). However Please note that the Item 7. Staff Numbers and Costs – Other Staff Costs DOUBLES from 59,176 to 119,617 in 2008!!!! What are this other staff costs?

    6. Communications and Events (also Expenditure) – 2007: 970,284 / 2008: 1,173,754

    Note- There is 200,000 increase in the cost of communications and events between financial years. The cost of publishing the journal stays at 412,756 (not the 425,000 stated in the Financial Summary), a saving of 2,000 over 2007. Nearly 70,000 increase can be attributed to “Other Events”, that jump to 114,869 from 56,757. Again, Allocation of salary costs and Allocation of support costs rose by some 145,000!!! What are this other salary costs?

  32. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    I quote from the Notes to the Financial Statements

    10. Resources Expended – 2007: 1,753,130 / 2008: 2,100,130

    Note- Please note again then amount Resources Expended Increase by, in the region of 350,000. This is due to major increases in the following areas:

    Communications and Events – 2007: 970,284 / 2008: 1,173,754

    Note – There is a huge increase in Expenditure in the region of 200,000. This can be broken down for 2008 as

    Staff costs – 418,435

    Activities Undertaken Directly – 528,355

    Support Costs – 226,964

    Note- I have not been able to obtain information regarding what items have experienced the highest increase from 2007. There is considerable Increase in Governance Costs – Statutory Audit Fees, from 16,613 to 24,572 which I cannot explain or understand. There is also a huge increase in depreciation, from 78,836 to 101,181. This maybe well in line with the method used, but it adds another 23,000 to costs!!! Depreciation is a very useful way to determine the effect of time and required future investment on business. However, it has no effect whatsoever over short term cash flow, cash reserves or the short term viability of the business, so it should be disregarded in the context of the LI’s financial troubles.

  33. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    I quote from the Notes to the Financial Statements

    10. Support Costs – 2007: 503,804 / 2008: 625,804

    Note- Support costs have increased by almost 122,000. Apparently, they have been allocated based on the ratio of income per Activity: 62% to Membership and Publications and 38% to Events and Conferences. Please note this ratio. 40% of the Income is generated by Events and Conferences. However, the cost of running these virtually surpasses the actual income generated. Which means that they have been run at a loss!!!!.

    When we look at the Structure of these Support Costs we can see the main increase between 2007 and 2008 is an Item named Other Costs: IT GOES UP BY MORE THAN 110,000. No explanation is offered as to what these other costs are.

  34. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    12. Tangible Fixed Assets- 2007: 100,697 / 2008: 129,918

    Note- There are considerable additions to the tune of 130,402 on Fittings, Fixture, Office equipment, etc at 24,438 (mostly furniture and fittings it seems), as well as Computers, at 73,832. This Addition matches the value of the existing computers at April 2007. It would appear that the LI invested in computers in ONE year to the same value that it already owned, Disposals only show (4,420). The Website grew

    “In addition to the assets reflected above, the Institute has a significant archive of historic Documents, incluidng in particularly the Geoffrey Jellicoe Collection, and the Martin Jones Photo Collection. It has been decided not to attribute a value to these heritage assets as cost information is not available and it is not considered practicable to reliably value them”

    Note- The Statement reads “the Institute has a significant archive” This archive could have been valued in a variety of ways, such as the cost of yearly upkeep, the cost of storage, at pound per item, at a pence per item. I see no reason to attribute no value to the archive.

  35. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    Note- Accounts for previous years show that the Institute has consistently failed to value the archive. The note “In addition to the assets reflected above, the Institute has a significant archive of historic Documents, incluidng in particularly the Geoffrey Jellicoe Collection, and the Martin Jones Photo Collection. It has been decided not to attribute a value to these heritage assets as cost information is not available and it is not considered practicable to reliably value them” and similar appear in 2006-2007

  36. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    I would like to quote from the Notes to the Financial Statement for the year ending in 2007

    “19. GIFT AID – After the year-end there was an audit by HMRC which raised the possibility that members may have claimed subscriptions that formed part of the charity’s Gift aid claims as a deduction from their selfemployed taxable profits. Payment of a claim in respect of 2007/08 has been held back pending a resolution of this issue. There was an HMRC audit of gift-aid in November 2004 at which this issue was not raised. The charity claims back gift-aid tax relief in respect of membership subscriptions in excess of £100,000 each year. At this stage it is not possible to be certain either of the facts with respect to members’ actions in past years, or to what extent this issue might affect future gift-aid claims. However Council consider that HMRC are unlikely, in light of all the circumstances, to seek to overturn past gift-aid claims.”

    Note- It would appear that this issue has been known to the trustees and Council since 2006. Why it has emerged in 2008 as a surprise is not for me to speculate.

  37. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    Personal Views

    For quite a while now I have mistrusted the way the Landscape Institute has been run, I make no secret of it. I believe that it has been mostly used as a vehicle for a few to further their careers. In that respect, I disagree with Mr McCapra’s assertion that “The interests of members are articulated primarily through the elected Council of the Institute and our main responsibility is thus to act as directed by our trustees”. I believe that the structure of the LI, as it stands, does very little to allow the Council to have the right information, at the right time and use it profitably for the benefit of the membership.

    Firstly, the compliance record in retuning the Annual Return and Accounts is discreet. These have been submitted late or very much on the edge of the legal limit. There is very little strategic advantage one can gain from a report that is ten months into the financial year. If something is wrong, there is no margin to correct it on time, specially if there are issues with financial control and procedures in place. As the Audit for the year 2007-08 shows, the LI, did have this kind of issues. It also means that Members are kept in the dark for ten months.

    With regards to the strategy implemented by the LI for growth I quote from the 2006-07 accounts:

    “Significant growth of advertising sales and other commercial income occurred during the year, underlining the need for careful business management and diversification of income as the benefits of the Institute’s activity to members and the public interest move on from being wholly financed by member subscriptions. We have taken steps to considerably clarify and strengthen the relationship between the Institute and Landscape Services Ltd, and have appointed two new directors to the Board”

    Now please read this for the 2007-08

    “practice subscriptions by more than inflation to enable investment and development of the organisation and to provide more resources within the Secretariat. Members’ subscriptions and practice subscriptions are present just over half of the income, (…). Advertising sales and other commercial income began to slow down during the year. reflecting the economic climate and underlining he need for careful business management and diversification of income. Advertising sales account for nearly 30% of the Institute’s income) this represents a significant business challenge to be addressed in 2008-9”

    We can see that one year we need to diversify and that the next we need to be careful with Advertising!.

    However, in the 2007-08 Accounts, we can see that income remains strong and growth is in the region of 15,000 for Advertising, possibly short of expectations if we consider previous years growth (70,000 for 2006-07) but not so short if we consider that income from Conferences and Sponsorship Jumps in 2007-08 to 114,036, that means nearly 70,000 more than 2006-07!!!!

    Overall, Income from charitable activities for 2007-08 was up by 135,000 over the previous year, and this includes Advertising. Why are we being given a partial a heavily biased version of the accounts?

    The source of our financial problems is not the Advertising downturn or the Gift Aid issue, which the Council has presumably know about since 2006 and has had plenty of time to adapt and take necessary action. As I have shown there has no been change in criteria by HMRC, they have simply stopped the LI members claiming twice the same money! If appropriate remedial action has not been taken, the those responsible must be held liable. Lame excuses will not wash.

    In my opinion, the source of problems is a massive increase in expenditure that the LI has incurred in the last two financial years, with staff increasing from 15 to 23 on average, and with an increase in Wages in the region of 200,000 for that period. I do not believe that the LI expected to increase sales by nearly 50%. There is also an incredible increase in an item named Other Staff Costs that jumps from 59,176 to 119,617 in one financial year, without explanation. This amount nearly equals the shortfall in Advertising revenue!

    With regards to the alleged misaccounting, I have seen no reference in the Financial Statements to this issue. It would appear that it is a 2008-2009 issue, and therefore it will be reflected in the Financial Statements for this period, possibly towards the end of 2010, as usual. It may have an impact on our situation, no doubt, but it needs to be separated and dealt with appropriately, not bundled in a package with other periferal stuff.

    The one worrying thing is the huge increase in expenditure and resources seen in 2007-08. Enough to see the line for RESOURCES EXPENDED (- 2007: 1,753,334 / 2008: 2,100,130) to understand that even if Advertising revenue had risen by twice the amount expected, it would have made very little difference to our financial situation.

    If we consider line 5. Membership and Examinations Expenditure – 2007: 734,091 / 2008: 870,684, we can see that the increase from 2007 and 2008 is in the region of 135,000, in spite of the fact that there are savings in every aspect of the Expenditure Described!

    This is this possible, because the Allocation of salary costs and Allocation of support costs rose by some 135,000 In one year! Wages themselves jumped from 533,537 to 629,992 (reasonable for the 4 extra employees that the LI is supposed to have employed on average over 19 staff in 2007). However Please note that the Item 7. Staff Numbers and Costs – Other Staff Costs DOUBLES from 59,176 to 119,617 in 2008!!!! What are this other staff costs and how where they distributed is one question I have.

    Moreover, if we look at 6. Communications and Events (also Expenditure) – 2007: 970,284 / 2008: 1,173,754. There is 200,000 increase in the cost of communications and events between financial years. The cost of publishing the journal stays at 412,756 (not the 425,000 stated in the Financial Summary), a saving of 2,000 over 2007. Nearly 70,000 increase can be attributed to “Other Events”, that jump to 114,869 from 56,757. Again, Allocation of salary costs and Allocation of support costs rose by some 145,000!!! What are this other salary costs? And what events were those at the tune of nearly 60,000? They cover the shortfall in advertising or a large chunk of money from the Gift AID.

    Overall, poor business practice is exemplified by the huge increase in cost of sales, which point in the direction of poor business decisions, such as to invest huge amounts of money in Conference and Sponsorship, when they actually bring in as much as they cost, if I am reading the figures correctly. This entails a huge loss of profitability and a drain in resources that are tied up in whatever these events required, instead of serving a more profitable purpose or staying in the bank!

    As for single items of expenditure, I find 20,000 in fixtures and furniture in one year slightly extravagant, but I may be entirely wrong. I have previously pointed out in other posts several other dubious items of expenditure in the accounts.

    One more point to take into consideration is the evolution of the Cash at Bank and in Hand, that goes from 319,873 in 2006, to 443,420 in 2007 to 275, 592 in 2008. The biggest depletion of Cash has not taken place in 2008, as the Financial Statement has us to believe, The accounts were not ready at that stage and that information could not be possibly ready. I see no mention of any financial analysis in the Accounts. I simply do not believe the way this information is presented. Cash has been depleted, but how, by whom and on what?

    In the light of this information, I personally feel misled by the LI as to the real nature of this crisis. I have been accused of being libellous, of making venomous attacks and of bullying members of staff by telling them that they are “having it large with my money”. Well, it appears that that some members of staff have had it “large” with the LI’s money, otherwise I see no explanation for the costs aforementioned.

    As for libellous views, there is nothing wrong with asking the police to have a closer look to whatever is happening with our accounts.

    The Financial Summary 2009 is misrepresentation of the facts, as I understand them. I may be wrong, and I may be wrong to suggest that some LI decisions smack of asset stripping. But I much rather have a detailed and profound review of the event leading to the situation we are in now than be kept in the dark until something much worse emerges.

    I have also called for the Council Members to resign in mass and subsidise the LI with their own assets. This may be a bit too much but if I may quote the Financial Statement:

    “As these accounts indicate, the institute ended the 2007-08 financial year with a significant trading deficit. This is due to a combination of factors, of which the (…) most significant are:(…) issues for the Institute’s internal financial control and monitoring systems”

    I have discounted the other two, as I have already commented on them. I quote from the Signed Accounts now

    “Thje Council are responsible for preparing the Annual Report and the financial statements in accordance with applicable law and UK Generally Accepted Accounting Practice. Company (…) law (…) requires the Council to prepare financial statements for each financial year which give true and fair view of the state of affairs of the Charity and of the surplus or deficit of the Charity for that period. In preparing those financial statements the Council have:

    – Selected suitable accounting policies and applied them consistently (sic)
    – Made judgements and estimates that are reasonable and prudent (sic)
    – state whether applicable accounting standards have been followed, subject to any material departures disclosed and the financial statements, and
    – prepared the financial statements on a going concern basis (unless it is inappropriate to presume that the Charity will continue in operation) (sic)

    The Council have overall responsibility for ensuring that the Charity has an appropriate system of control, financial and otherwise. (…) They are also responsible for safeguarding the assets of the Charity and hence for taking reasonable steps for the detection and prevention of fraud and other irregularities. (sic)”

    Considering all of the above, I am afraid that it is unconceivable that the same people stay in the same places making the same decisions. Now that LI members of staff are being made redundant, the bad guy is me, who berates them in a spat of despondency and impotence. We have the Institute we deserve and we have the Council Members and trustees we deserve.

    If expressing these views about something I care passionately about, then, what is left for me as a Member. To leave the Institute? Is that what we are expected to do, if we do not comply?. I may be wrong, but I would like the opportunity to prove that I may be right.

  38. Tom Turner Post author

    Gabino, I can understand if you lack the inclination, and feel the commuting would be onerous, but you would be a welcome breath of fresh air in the councils of the Landscape Institute.

  39. Gabino Carballo CMLI


    “he who wields the dagger shall not wear the crown” they say! I do not think I should join the Council, I may have “financial blood” in my hands, so to speak. When I am finished and done with the incumbent president and other members of the COuncil(which I consider resposible for the disastrous situation we are in) and their attempt at concelling the facts of the Li’s bankruptcy, I am not going to have lots of friends around.

    My responsibility is to help other members to expose what a bunch of snake-oil sellers this useless lot is, beyond that, all I can say is I love to help and contribute as much as I can with charities and similar non for profit organisations. I have actually worked as a volunteer accountant for one. However, I have discovered that I am not quite suited to this kind of environmet.

    You know, strong views, volatile temper, unwillingness to compromise at every turn, lack of ambition, politically cack-handed. You read my messages and then think if you would like somebody like me in the COuncil. Probably not.

    Thanks for your kind suggestion, anyway.

  40. Dominic Cole

    Gabino & Tom – I have only just got round to reading this – Gabino – thankyou for your analysis of the accounts – again something I was wanting to do , but have not had time . In my gut I knew there was something missing from what we have been told & you have eloquently exposed a number of missing facts ! How do we mow use this information to dump that incompetent lot off council?

  41. Tom Turner Post author

    I don’t know where the quotation comes from (‘he who wields the dagger never wears the crown’) but it seems to apply more to monarchies than democracies. Obama and McCain distinguished themselves by criticizing Bush, as Churchill did by criticizing Chamberlain. This takes us to the fascinating question: is the LI more akin to a monarchy or to a democracy? I know we have elections but they are not hotly contested and I have heard mutterings about successions. Others will know more. Gabino: if you stand for council, I will vote for you.
    On another point, Italy granted professional recognition to landscape architects last year and Spain will surely follow suit, someday.

  42. Gabino Carballo

    I think is Thatcher’s dictum to Heseltine. I will not stand for council. I am sorry but the LI is not even ready for the average Johnny Foreigner, let alone me.

    The LI has long been a dysfuntionally democratic institution. It has arcane and complex procedures and members cannot be bothered with it. We have what we deserve.

    As for Spain, let’s wait (a long time) and see. This country is not quite what it seems.

  43. Gabino Carballo

    Hello, I am not very sure if anybody is actually reading this stuff, but I just want to share some thoughts:

    I am working through the last five years accounts. They are pretty scary stuff.

    I am not very sure what happened 5 years ago, but we nearly went bust too. I wonder if anybody noticed at the time. Are we, landscape architects, congenitally stupid or simply easy to lie to, and fob off with niceties?

    I have dug out a contact from Stuart Royston time’s, when Tim Gale (this guy gives me the creeps , by the way) was President. Apparently, there was a problem collecting and managing money from subscriptions to the extent that the LI financial officer had to cry and sob to get the situation sorted.

    We have had something like 6 CEOs in 13 years. This should tell us something.

    Alistair McCapra used to work for Icon. I am not very sure that this is a very funny pun, if you get my drift.

    Icon does not stand for something dodgy, they are the Institute for Conservation. I have managed to get an opinion from them, and it seems that they are in a bad way too. Apparently, if Mr McCapra had not joined the LI he may have been asked to consider furthering his career with a change anyway. We are a lucky bunch.

    However,I have been re-reading his messages to me. I suspect that he was trying to help me, actually. He has given me a lot of data in a rather subtle way. His comments have put me on the right track.

    I think that he is quite pissed-off and bitter. He probably feels that he has been cheated and lied to. Read this:

    “If the LI Council were weaklings, idiots or defectives of some sort” (sic)

    It is part of one of his messages. He is trying to save his job, but he is also clearing my path to get to the truth. I guess he expects to stay when we clean our house.

    I am not very sure how we go about removing this “weaklings, idiots or defectives” the guys over the UK have to get going.

    One IMPORTANT thing: we need new auditors in place. Last year’s accounts were clearly contaminated with 2008-09 insights.

    I have tried to obtain the original accounts for 2007-08, as the ones available are “reinstated”, or a revision. McCapra has not sent them to me, even though I have asked for them. Can anyone get them and forward them to me, somehow?

  44. Gabino Carballo

    The truth is that it gets to the point when I feel completely stupid. How can we be so blind? The kind of mismanagement and incompetent account keeping we have suffered in 2007-2008 happened again in 2004-2005. We do have a recurrent issue with Control.

    Let’s read this, from the 2004-05 Accounts, signed by Kathryn Moore and Jo Watkins, Honorary Treasurer:

    “Unexpected legal costs and salary outgoings, the cost of the move from Barnard Mews, together with the start up costs for Landscape are just some of the events we have been able to deal with in a professional manner and without severe financial risk (…) the year ended with a loss of only £60,000 on our operating budget”

    Well, let’s see the Accounts:

    2. Membership and publications – Incoming Resources –

    Advertising in the Journal/Vista – 2004: 42,547 / 2005: 343,695

    Not bad, 300,000 increase in one year.

    Now see Members Subscriptions for the same period – 2004: 775,193 / 2005: 947,810

    Ok, 175,000 increase in one year. That makes us 475,000 richer only with this two items.

    However, altogether, in Total membership and publications income we make:

    2004: £ 911,330 / 2005: £1.360,944 or 450,000 income from those activities.

    We also had income from the 75th Anniversary event:

    3. Events and conferences – 75th Anniversary £ 118,128 – But it did cost us 70,234!

    Altogether, Contribution to general costs was: 2004: £ 48,334 / 2005: £ 34,760

    So we get roughly £ 485,000 from these items from an overall turnover of £516,843 for 2005, doubling the 2004 figure of 250,759. Not bad

    Sadly, we decide to spend nearly half a million pounds sterling A YEAR on something we are ditching now. The publishing contract:

    2. Membership and publications – Direct costs –

    Journal and publication costs – 2004: 169,889 / 2005: 415,270

    That is 250,000 extra we have to pay approx. So we are left with 235,000. I am not very sure this was great business decision.

    Let’s see the costs:

    4. Support Costs –

    Staff Costs – 2004: 435,934 / 2005: 561,055

    This is nearly a 130,000 increase. The notes also state:
    1 employee was paid between £60,000 and £70,000

    Premises Costs – 2004: 435,934 / 2005: 561,055

    Another 130,000 increase

    Legal and Professional costs- 2004: 22,471/ 2005: 108,700

    Another 85,000

    We are not doing terribly if we consider all the income sources and expenditure. We can already see that the famous Item “other staff costs” kicks in:

    10. Staff costs and transactions with Council members –

    Other staff costs: 2004: 16,856 / 2005: 76,823

    That is a 50,000 increase. THE LI’S DEFICIT WAS £60,000!!!!

    And so on, on, on.

    These accounts were also “Restated”, that’s to say, something didn’t add up at the end of the year and the financial position had to be revised. Bad business decisions combined with imprudent and injudicious expenditure is the norm at the LI.

    When are we going to learn!

  45. Gabino Carballo

    I would like to reply to Dominic,

    As far as I am concerned, my job is bringing as many facts to light as possible and using them to promote change and transparency at the LI. We have been taken for a ride, not once, but twice, already. This has to stop.

    We need to leave the Age of Irresponsibility and Unaccountability.

    How to do it, is for the 5000 memebers that the LI seems to have. If what I have already explained is not enough to move half that figure at the very least, maybe we need to dissapear as a profession and the LI disbanded.

    The LI must SERVE its members. It is not above us, it has to be next to us. It should not serve property developers interests, or big practices interests. It should not further some failing and mediocre careers and sit on the fence on important issues.

    We should not further failing and mediocre careers and sit on the fence on important issues.

    We need to take a stance and contribute towards society.

    The last AGM has put the LI back on track, but with a delay of a decade if no more. We were lost, now we need to find ourselves. We need a VISION.

    We need clear objectives based on a thourough appraisal of where we are and who we are. Define our limitations, and use them to our advantage. Learn from the best available knowledge

    We need to embrace dignified modesty and articulate efficiency in our thinking. We have to embrace ethics at a level that we are now missing, just like most of the Western world. It is time to leave hubris behind. Put our feet on the ground and our ears too.

    We clearly need to revise our syllabus and change the way we deliver value: we need to acquire Business Management Expertise and well as Project Management Expertise. We need to acquire a more profound understanding of technical and technological issues. We need methods that make our practice slender and lightfooted.

    I do not need to emphasize the need for a return to a strong horticultural and ecological knowledge base, updated for the 21st century. We have to abandon ideology in design issues and enter explicit love for art and culture.

    We have to enter the professional field with a higher degree of specialization and expertise. And we need to compete with other professions for a larger share of the profit that is out there. We need to stop selling our labour cheap.

    Above all, we have to enter a serious ethical debate. There are things that we are not supposed to do and we do them because they make our life easy and our business smooth and profitable. If we want to lead, we will we followed because we are an example, not because we posture better than others.

    There is nothing that Landscape Architects cannot do. We just have to prove it to ourselves first. The rest will be easy.

  46. Gabino Carballo

    I would like to finish with some words from Jo Watkins in 2004:

    “However, looking to the future we should remain fully optimistic. We must maintain secure financial control but take comfort that through the extremely hard work of my predecessors and the Secretariat, we now have a transparent, sound accounting policy and strong reserves”

    I now quote from the Accounts 2007-2008:

    “As these accounts indicate, the institute ended the 2007-08 financial year with a significant trading deficit. This is due to a combination of factors, of which the (…) most significant are:(…) issues for the Institute’s internal financial control and monitoring systems”

    I understand that Mr Watkins was against preserving the archive but now chairs some comission related with its future.

    I believe that we rather give him a medal for his services and send him packing elsewhere or we may find that in five years time we may not have an archive to talk about.

    On the other hand, Mr Watkins maybe the right person to save it, as that means having a useful smokescreen to conceal the facts of LI’s accounts from members.

  47. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    If you are in Facebook, please join this group and help me to believe that I am not a lunatic!

    The Landscape Institute is for Landscape Architects

    If you are in other social networks, please set up similar groups.

    Let’s fight McCrapa and his army of Computer Games Experts!

  48. Dominic Cole

    Gabino – I only have access to this site at work – I am technologically incompetent so cannot network – IT is vital that your words & Analysis of the finances are brought to the attention of members but I dont know how to do it .
    McCapra is quoted in Horticulture Week 20th March : ‘ We are hoping to move as soon as possible,and I want to move into a serviced office and not take the library with me ‘
    some delude members have already paid their subscriptions early – raising £ 20,000 for the LI to play with

  49. Gabino Carballo CMLI


    No worries, I am working on the network side. However, these virtual networks are to human relations what masturbation is to sex, to put it bluntly!

    You guys in the UK have to start getting organised seriously to remove most of the Council, and Trustees and possibly Mr McCapra. It much more serious than I thought!

    We have been stripped of over 300,000 pounds sterling worth of cash in the last 5 years whilst our assets remain at 2004 levels.

    We are being milked!

    By the way, the 20,000 will not save the LI, that doesn’t even cover a week operating expense. My analysis show they have not cash to function, if we ALL stop paying our subscriptions for 1 month, the LI will go bust entirely.

    Some of you need to work on getting McCapra on our side. He cares about his job, he’s ready to compromise and negotiate. Either he is with us and keeps his job or he is against us and he is against us and unemployed in a few months. There is no them and us. There is only us.

    In my mind, there is some danger in Communications and Education. Smart suits and smarmy smiles.

    We have been playing for expensive computer games!

  50. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    After looking at 2007-08 accounts, I have looked at last 5 year accounts. I have also broadened the scope of issues that need looking into, including Mr McCapra’s appointment and his sutability for the post. I have also looked into the issue of the Policy & Communications Department. It appears to be a real loss-maker, that needs to be strongly subsidized to saty afloat.

    I can see that in the year 2008-2009 will cost us more than 100,000 and slightly less in 2009-2010, possibly 60,000. However, what do we get from it? Let’s see what its head, Mr Paul Lincoln does:

    “Responsible for the development and implementation of the Institute’s policy and public affairs, marketing and communications strategy, internal and external communications, publications (including the Landscape Journal and Vista), events programme, sponsorship, income generation, competitions, awards, library, archive and information services.”

    Well, it looks like he is going to be doing nothing.

    SO, we dispose of the archive, which we members we want to keep and has little financial impact on our situation, and sack the archivist, but not the much more expensive head of that failed Department? What is going on? Why do we sack minions that cost nothing and do something, and help fat cats to stay fat?

    Let’s look at Mr McCapra’s suitability for the post, too. It appears that before he landed the job at the LI, he was the head of Icon, or Institute for Conservation. I am not very sure what happened there, but their Accounts for 31 Mar 2008 show that they ended the year with a significant trading deficit, in the region of 250,000. We may be witnessing the emergence of a pattern.

    With regards to the LI I would say that if your house is on fire, you call in the fire fighters, not pyromaniacs. What do I know?

    I have searched the web a little bit and I got this gem:

    “Prior to coming to Icon, Alastair had learnt his leadership skills in the workplace, mainly through personal observation.”

    So, he had no real qualifications and little on the way of credentials to be a CEO, this gentleman, It seems that he landed a job as CEO in Icon though sheer willpower. I bet they are glad they chose him.

    It is also worth mentioning:

    ““I found I am comfortable with fuzzy edges, in other words, with not knowing everything about something or exactly how something will turn out. This willingness to take risks is a strength, but at the same time it can contrast strongly with the style of others involved, both at board and at staff level.”

    Great. Fuzzy edges. Risks. Not knowing how things will turn out.

    We had a problems with Control and procedures in Marion Bowman’s time, yet we chose a chap with no previous track record as competent, capable, and fool-proof administrator, but one that is learning on the job. He’s gonna have a hell of a learning curve, when he is finished with us.

    There is something mesianic about his vision of his job description:

    “He therefore welcomes the evolution of a more flexible and proactive role for the Chief Executive in the new organisation, allowing board members to delegate a wider range of issues to him. Alastair feels he gained some important insights regarding this from using Liberating Leadership. In his own words: “I saw myself as not directive, but rather as someone who tried to bring the best out of people. The Leadership Assessment Tool revealed that I might need to be more directive, given my current operating environment.”

    We can see that.

    So, we “delegate” to him, I guess. We have subcontracted our leadership to an employee. Obviously, not a single Landscape Architect in the land was up to the job. I wonder whay don’t we just shut the shop up?

    My recommendations to any incoming council members would be:

    – That serious consideration be given to a thourough investigation of expenditure during Marion Bowman’s term. We need to seek legal advice and possibly call the police to investigate to waht extent it may be possible to recoup the expenditure that I find has not been properly justified.

    – Have a close look at the interim period between her departure and Mr McCapra’s appointment, with particular attention to Policy & Communications Department expenditure.

    – Review Mr McCapra’s suitability for the job and redefine his job description. He is not to lead, but to administrate and serve. If he is not capable of such a task, he must be allowed to pursue his interest in “Liberating Leadership” elsewhere.

    – Cut our losses and eliminate the Policy & Communications Department entirely, starting with its head, which I presume is lot more expensive than an archivist and a lot less useuful given the fact that there are no communications to speak of, right now.

    – Give serious consideration to the posibility of bringing legal action against the current Trustees and expelling them from the Landscape Institute if any form of wrong doing or collusion with any wrong doing is found.

    – Reform the Li entirely to make accountable to its members. Publish all expenditure and accounts online in real time. All salaries to be made public. COntrol of expenditure in the hands of a Member of the Landscape Institute, that will institute systematic procedures for control.
    – Leadership entirely in the hands of landscape architects. CEO to be Administrative Director. Reinstate the Archive and cut all loss making activities and Departments. No strategic decissions in the hands of non-landscape Architects.
    – All LA’s to receive complusory trainning on ethical issues and corporate responsibility.

  51. R.Bryant

    Gabino’s comments are fascinating. He is to be congratulated on his tenacity and forensic skills of analysis. Robert Bryant

  52. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    Hi Robert,

    My forensic skills are those of a Landscape Architect used to working with Specifications, Bills of Quantities, Contracts, Detailed Drawings and multidisciplinary teams where Landscape Design is always going to be the last thing to be considered!

    Right now, I am not the most popular living LA, if I consider the state of my Inbox. So:

    Thank you for your Comment!

  53. Tom Turner Post author

    I very much agree about the Landscape Institute having as many landscape architects as possible on its HQ staff. Generally, they know the business and have their hearts in the business. This applies a fortiori to the Publicity and Communications. I was pleased when the Landscape Institute asked for comments on the forthcoming Green Infrastructure paper. My comments on the draft were that (1) it lacked a theoretical basis (2) it made no reference to the considerable literature of the subject (3) it was far to ready to classify a miscellaneous group of projects as examples of ‘green infrastructure’ – just as the previous paper had used far too wide a group of projects as examples of contributions to the climate change agenda. I offered to help but received no further communication from the LI on the subject. My worry is that too few professional landscape architects are contributing, except, understandably, by sending in photos of projects they would like some publicity for.
    Apart from doing those things which have to be done, like good housekeeping, the things I would like to see the LI put effort and resources into are (1) clarifying our concepts [eg green infrastructure and sustainability] (2) explaining how landscape architects can make cities more liveable and more sustainable (3) promoting professional opportunities for our members through a policy initiative.
    The recruitment drive of recent years has achieved little and I think far more could have been done to attract talented people into the profession by a policy communication initiative of this type – but it would have to be done by landscape architects. If you raise a banner, people will ‘follow the leader’. If you mumble political platitudes they will look elsewhere.

  54. Gabino Carballo CMLI

    The problem Tom, is that you are asking Landscape Architects to think for themselves and come up with ideas.

    The Landscape Institute prefers lame ducks ready to work for a pittance in some large practice devoted to furthering property developers profits at the expense of society.

    I said it: Society. Dirty word. Please read as “suckers good enough to take their hard earned cash from, but not good enough to be listened to or cared for”.

    I may be talking about something other than that “Cack Hand Ed meets Bug Ginsturn” that our Institute became so long ago. Or may be not!

  55. Gabino Carballo CMLI


    I have sent a letter to the Landscape Institute querying the Financial Summary, February 2009.

    You should all be able to download it here:

    What follows is my message to Dominic Cole, who, along Tom Turner and many others, have lend me their support in pursuit of freedom of opinion and speech and my right to bring those who claim to represent us to account.

    I must thank you all. Above all, I appreciate this bit of wisdom:

    “The price of liberty is eternal vigilance”

    Let’s not forget this so easily, next time we build our institutions.


    Dear Dominic,

    Please find attached my letter to Mr Williamson, on the subject of the “Financial Summary, February 2009” and the reasons for the LI near bankrupcy so far.

    I have attempted to explain my views and ask for as much clarification as possible. I have avoided allocating blame, but I haven’t resisted the urge to point out that some individuals may have no future at the LI, given the information available.

    I have moderated my calls for the police to intervene and I even avoid calling for resignations. It may be easier for all to digest this way.

    I am sure I could have done much better, and I have left out much information that may be relevant to this issue. I have portrayed the facts as clearly as I have been able to. I am sure that I have made mistakes, and they will be picked upon.

    However, I do believe that my letter shows that mismangement has ocurred and that foul play with our money is a distinct possibility. I also show that the Council has engaged in a distinct attempt at concealling the source of our Institute’s troubles from us Members. I feel lied to and misled. I know that this was their intention in sending out that pitiful piece of trash named Financial Summary.

    I have not restrained myself entirely with regards to the use of colourful language and insults. Suffice to say that where you can read “idiots” I originally envisaged the addition of several expletives with considerable impact in English language. This is a fairly tuned down version of the original, to say the least.

    We saw so far because we stood in the shoulders of giants, such as Jellicoe, Clouston or Ellison. Now we find the blind leading the one eyed towards an abyss of destruction and disrepute.

    To say that I despise this lot and their pathetic rigmarole of an Institute is not enough. They have brought us very low, with their disgusting rotation of council members and their dubious financial practices.

    This Institute does not deserve us, but I hope that you all can find a way to reconcile this impossible divergence between Members and Institution. We really need to refound this profession upon new principles and outlook.

    We are not without blame, either. Nazionalsocialism rose to power simply because decent people decided to do nothing and looked the other way until it was too late. Our Institute has become a profundly disfunctional institution because all decent Members looked the other way whilst some greedy and pathetic mediocres used it to further their failed and irrelevant careers.

    We have allowed our Communications department to become a cheap Public Relations bureau in the hans of an professionally limited and ethically challenged individual that has never had our interest at heart. We subcontracted our voice and our thoughts. We may as well have subcontracted our feelings and emotions, our love and our passions.

    We have stood together in darkness and silence for so long that i wonder if we ever will be able to speak loudly and articulatedly again.

    I took it upon me to call the Council to account. As far as I am concerned, my task is complete. I do not much care for their reply, what they think of me, or the consequences.

    I just feel both sad and incredibly tired. I hope that some good will come of all this.

    Best wishes to you all.

    Gabino Carballo CMLI

    Barcelona, Spain


Leave a Reply to Gabino Carballo Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *