Shepley on ... Defending the school budget

It is one of the few deficiencies of the Human Rights Act that it does not refer to the right for planners to attend the Planning Summer School at least once.

I went along last month to give a chat about Grotton Revisited. As always there was a great atmosphere and evident signs of enthusiasm for everything relating to planning.

Lifelong friendships were being formed, continuing professional development fulfilled, new things learnt and acceptable but certainly not excessive quantities of alcohol consumed.

One of the many worries about the new age of austerity is that budgets for summer school, and indeed other conferences and events, will be cut. Short-term expediency trumps long-term advantage every time. I was lucky enough to be employed in mid-career by people who allowed - even encouraged - me to go to such things.

I didn't get where I am today, which is in my front room typing this column, without those opportunities. I was always stimulated, my commitment renewed and my expertise dragged up to a tolerable level. So defend those budgets.

The country is not in such dire straits that the despatch of the odd senior planner to York or Swansea, the RTPI Convention or a regional event would tip us over the edge into some black hole of economic disaster.

Finally, to the delegate from Uganda - great to meet you and good luck. To the Greek lady from Glasgow - hope you liked the Minster.

To the lady from the Falklands - thanks for the penguin. And to the man from the Treasury working on the spending review - I wouldn't like your job, but you seem to be enjoying it.

- Chris Shepley is principal of Chris Shepley Planning and a former chief planning inspector for England and Wales.

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