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Failed group for independent agents says it's not quite dead yet

The death throes of the Charter for Independent Estate and Letting Agents are continuing.

A statement by software entrepreneur Charlie Wright, who has spent almost a year trying to win support for his idea of a group representing independent agencies, says in a statement that the idea is not quite dead and buried.

“[CIELA] has recently been approached by several industry suppliers who believe in CIELA’s mission, looking to explore ways in which CIELA can become a permanent organisation” he says.

CIELA began with ideas under consideration such as the creation of its own property portal, providing back-office services to agencies and other property firms, and the possibility of three or four different tiers of membership. It devised a structure that included 12 regional, 76 county and 22 London borough ‘seats’ to be filled.

All that came to nothing, but in his statement yesterday Wright continued: “Watch this space for further updates regarding the re-vitalisation of CIELA, which hopes to go forward with its driving objective: To be a voice for the independent agent, and to educate the public so that they may not be distracted by misleading advertisements by corporations with greater marketing budgets.”

The latter reference is to CIELA’s complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority about Purplebricks; the ASA yesterday came out in support of the complaint, which concerned two TV ads by the hybrid agency, which must now be modified to clarify the charging structure if they are to be used again.

However, in the same statement that Wright suggests there is mileage in the idea of a group for independent agencies, he admits that the ASA ruling “may prove too little too late for CIELA.”

At the start of the summer Wright declined to give details of the numbers of enquiries or supporters he attracted in response to his call for members. Prior to the body’s scheduled official launch, agents were asked to pay £35 a month to back the group.

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