A Landscape of Destruction

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    Gabino Carballo

    Hi all,
    Some of you may be aware of the fact that the Landscape Institute, the British professional body that represents over 5000 landscape architects is in serious trouble and financial difficulties. I am a fully Chartered Member, and I am fighting to have my views heard and legal action taking to ascertain responsibilities with regards to its current situation.

    Our Institute is virtually bankrupt and in urgent need to move premises. We are penniless and homeless so to speak. We can now refer to it as the “Landscape Destitute” quite freely.

    The official explanation given so far is that a “sudden drop in advertising income” is to be blamed for the situation. I do not accept this explanation, as I have been aware of the poor way the Li has been managed and I have been waiting for something like this to come through for a long time. To state my case, I have gone through the last year’s accounts first and, later, I have gone over the last five years accounts.

    We are bound to lose our 75 year old archive and we have had to let go a number of employees to make up for what it seems to me excessive and unjustifiable expenditure. I consider these redundancies unfair, as our employees are being made to pay by the LI’s Council Members gross oversight and incompetence. I believe that the LI COuncil has enganged in attempts at concealling the true origins of of our financial situation, which is due to not properly detailed and justified expenditure at the tune of 200,000 in one single year.

    The Institute’s response so far has been to ignore me. I have been banned from all the Landscape Institute’s Forums and my password access to the Professional Directory no longer works and cannot get in touch with other members and have my views heard.

    All my postings related to the true origins of our troubles have been removed. In spite of some members request for my messages to be reinstated and be allowed to explain my views, I have received no confirmation from the Institute on what has become to me an issue of free speech.

    The Landscape Institute has become one of the last refuges of the WAMPSIS or “White And Mediocre Public School IdiotS”. Their contempt for Members is legendary and their inability to run our house properly is for all to see.

    I have now formally written to the President of the LI, specifically asking whether he is aware of any form of wrongdoing and conflict of interest with regards to the use of funds at the Institute’s disposal, and I outline my scepticism with regards to the reasons given for our bankruptcy so far.

    You can download my views from Gardenvisit.com or here.

    The official reply up to now has been that my letter is “receiving attention”.

    I am trying to get the Charity Commission to raise this issue with the Institute, even though they seem to be reluctant to do so.

    There are three points that I feel are essential:

    1. We are professionals bound by a code of conduct we are supposed to uphold. We cannot accept deception, misinformation, mismanagement and/or cover ups to sustain a slim facade of respectability at our own professional body because it simply reflects on us as a whole. It is ethically repugnant and morally wrong to pretend otherwise, particularly when we are asking young people to join the profession.

    2. My research shows that the LI suffers from endemic mismanagement and, very possibly, corruption as well. It is not just my opinion, it is shared by other, better qualified, individuals that have been able to read through it. We cannot tolerate and sustain the loss of our archives because of individual wrong doing. We cannot make people redundant to pay for our oversight and lack of corporate sense of ethics or responsibility.

    3. Whatever mistakes I may have made in putting my ideas accross, a clear fact remains: the LI has attempted to mislead and misinform its members regarding the origins of its financial situation. Those responsible must face their responsibilities and resign. Failure to achieve so equals perpetuating and vindicating their actions for the future.

    One more issue to consider is our attitude and outlook in life as professionals. For a very long time, I have felt that our profession has lost its way and “raison d’être”. We are flying on very low expectations and without a very clear long term mission and vision for our role in society. I am not surprised the Architect Will Alsop took issue with us, because the truth is that we deserve a good battering for rewarding incompetence and mediocrity all the way through the professional ladder, particularly large practices. We occupy one of the lowest levels in the Consultancy industry and our influence in contemporary culture and thought is next to nil.

    The way nearly 5000 members of this institute are behaiving (mostly keeping their heads in the sand) is rather troubling to me and it reflects a deep erosion of the British society’s values I once learnt.

    It seems that anything goes now: lying, grabbing money that is not yours, avoiding work and responsibility, and above all, keeping quiet in the face of blatant misconduct and brazen dishonesty. It has all become a massive “I’m all right, Jack” one size fits all reflex, where the main goal is to keep your head low, avoid rocking the boat and go unnoticed.

    I no longer recognize the society where I once learnt just the oppossite values, rather distant from my own country’s, by the way.

    I cannot do much more than what I have done so far. Now, it is up to the other 4999 members to decide what the future is going to be like. The choice is clear and simple to me, but they could just say that “I am from Barcelona” and joke their way out of this, with very few remarkable individual exceptions.

    I have already outraged quite a few LI Members by suggesting that if Drake had counted on Landscape Architects to sink the Armada, the British would all be singing “Que Viva España” and sleeping siesta in the mud by now.

    Mostly, it seems that many are happy to be taken for a ride and acknowledge that even though foul play is a distinct possibility, it is better to keep it quiet to avoid “disrepute”. I find this unacceptable.

    I hope that my views will not be censored yet again.

    Gabino Carballo CMLI
    Barcelona, Spain

    Gabino Carballo

    Well, their atitude has been pretty much the same: they have sacked (rather unfairly) people with on little pay and have kept on board all the useless fat cats, that are to blame for the general rip-off that us members have suffered.

    I have seen fome financail forecasts and it is more of the same, they are just not reducing enough expenditure because none of the well paid want to go.

    They are just setting the whole thing up so next year they can say that the crisis is terrible and that suscriptions must go up! You would think that 5000 people cannot be so stupid, but then, just look at what is happening with Banks, and you can see a pattern emmerging:

    There is a sucker for every day and they are going to take us for everything we’ve got.

    By the way, have you noticed that bringing this sort of thing up makes you unpopular?

    People not only get used to the stench of corruption and thievery, they actually enjoy it after a while.

    This is how Nazi Germany was built, decent people covering their noses and looking the other way until it was too late.

    We really have to react now!


    Gabino Carballo

    I have now written to the President of the Landscape Institute to demmand a reply. This is my message:

    Dear Mr Williams,

    It has been a month now since I sent you a letter asking a number of questions. Most of them were quite straight forward and easy to reply. In any event, none of them warrant such a long time for an answer.

    Given your silence and the fact that the Journal publishes misleading statements about the reasons for our current state of affairs and conceals facts such as those highlihgted in my letter to you, I have reasons to believe that you, the trustees and that uncapable wannabe administrator, McCapra, are involved in a conspiracy to hide both sistemic corruption and wrongdoing at the LI over several years.

    I would like you to reply as soon as possible, (ie: now) stating your possition on my views and questions clearly. Moreover, I would particularly like to ask you the following question:

    – Would you agree with me that you, and other trustees, are entirely liable for the shortfall in funds occured during Marion Bowman’s term and later, in accordance with CC8 – Internal Financial Controls for Charities – Delegation of financial duties to employees or other officers of the charity?

    As you can see Point 18 states-

    18. Trustees have a duty to exercise such care and skill as is reasonable in the circumstances when discharging these review duties. If they fail to exercise reasonable care and skill when appointing delegates and reviewing their performance they may be personally liable for losses resulting to the charity from the acts of the delegate.

    I would like to know what steps are you taking to redress the situation and what decissions have been taken with regards to returning our Institute to a decent Financial state with your own assets, as you should.

    As a matter of urgency, you ought to sack McCapra and Lincoln, for manifest incompetence and the sistematic issue of misleading statements to members at the wider public.

    I believe that it would be preferable if you and the rest of the Council resigned with inmediate effect and apologise to all of us members. It would be the decent thing and we could all put this disgusting affair behind us.

    Unfortunately, I suspect that none of you lot knows the meaning of the term Decency.

    And you definitely do not have the balls to act properly either, so let’s face it, if I do not hear from you within a reasonable time, I may find myself in a position where only way forward are legal avenues. None of you are going to survive the courts, you can count on that. I have nothing to lose.

    It’s your call.

    I know that you all think that I am some Dirty Dago from Barcelona and that my views are not to be taken seriously, but you may be very well mistaken. This is not Fawlty Towers. This is real, like the money mis-spent and the liablities the lot of you have incurred into.

    I am still a Member and I have rights. Don’t you ever forget that.

    Gabino Carballo CMLI


    Gabino Carballo
    Gabino Carballo

    Time for the Dog to wag the Tail –

    If your majesty will not hear words, we must come to cannon and see if you will hear them” (…) “Little man (…) Go home and be quiet!

    After a not so long last, Members of the Landscape Institute have decided that enough is enough. We have had a long running farce at our own house, it has been a laugh, but it all has come to tears.

    A number of Members, coordinated by by Dominic Cole of LUC and Brian Clouston, a Past President of the LI have decided to challenge the new and undemocratic election precedures now in place at the LI, designed to keep in place the same people who got us into this mess and ensure that they remain free to take the piss with our money, as they have done for so long. The same people who have run us into the ground, must be brought to account by Membership, and we will do so.

    We have agreed to concentrate on removing this obstacle first, prior to implementing any further changes and we hope that many will be able to support the requisition and will do so by signing the forms, indicating membership class and sending it direct to the LI, with pride instead of fear.

    Importantly, Elections are coming: Ballot papers have already been sent out and must be returned by 5th of June. It is a crucial time at the LI, our future starts here. Of course, I have not yet received anything, but who knows, I may get lucky and be allowed to vote freely for a candidate of my choice and not one that has already been selected as primus inter pares.

    We risk everything we have: our history, our money, our reputation and our ability to decide in what way the LI is run. It is now time for change at the Landscape Institute and I hope that those of you who have also hoped for it will now have a chance to make your votes count.

    Please download the Requisition at the link below:




    “Duuude…. wheres my car?”

    Gabino Carballo

    Did you park it near the Landscape Institute?

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