CSD members are owed an explanation

So, the Chartered Society of Designers is again faced with the mid-term resignation of its president (see News, page 3). Ironically, Adrianne LeMan, whose resignation was accepted at the recent CSD Council meeting, stepped into the breach only 18 months ago after Nick Jenkins resigned over wranglings within the council and its then less than supportive stance over the Halifax Initiative.

Sources suggest the circumstances behind LeMan’s decision were similar. Lack of support from within CSD Council has been cited as a reason, as has its ambivalent stance on Design Unity – the statement of intent born of the Halifax Initiative for design industry bodies to present a unified front which LeMan supports.

It takes guts and commitment to take on an honorary job such as the CSD presidency. It’s especially hard when you have a small business to run – as LeMan has in annual reports specialist C&FD. But the task is insufferable if you don’t have the backing of your peers within the organisation, as Jenkins and LeMan have both found to their cost.

Jenkins won our respect over his decision to step down last year, thereby drawing ills within CSD Council to the attention of a wider industry audience. LeMan deserves our support now. Such decisions are never taken lightly. But we urge her to break her silence and share with us the nature of the problems within CSD Council so that they can be addressed. It is, after all, an elected body meant to represent the interests of members who deserve to be told.

We hope Lin Gibbon fares better as she takes over the CSD reins. But we ask CSD Council to explain why her elevation was agreed behind closed doors, before members knew LeMan had stepped down. LeMan initially succeeded Jenkins as acting president in June last year after a very public resignation, before her presidency was confirmed. Whether or not the society’s constitution allows for it, it would be morally sound for members’ opinions to be canvassed this time, to dispel fears of a palace coup.

We also ask why CSD Council believes the society can soldier on without an executive head following the departure of acting director Maria Luniw and the continuing absence of director Brian Lymbery (DW 27 November).

It’s probably too much to expect responses to these requests. My observation last week that “something is rotten in London’s Farringdon” has provoked no official comment. But if I, like many of you, was a CSD member I’d be asking tough questions and expecting honest answers. And if they weren’t forthcoming, I too would resign.

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