Presidential contenders set agenda

As candidates for election to junior vice-president in next month's vote Peter Geraghty, David Marshall and Ken Burley take the opportunity to outline their priorities for the institute's focus during their term of office.

KEN BURLEY

The coalition government, a massive spending review, open sourcing, abolition of regional spatial strategies and the absorption of the Infrastructure Planning Commission into the Planning Inspectorate all herald more change. It is imperative that the institute engages with the government to influence the direction and speed of that change.

Whatever emerges will still be a complicated spatial planning system, however many attempts are made to streamline it. Planning Aid will continue to be very important, therefore, in helping needy individuals and communities get to grips with the system.

If elected junior vice-president, one of my concerns would be to work for an open and effective relationship between the executive board and general assembly. Another would be to encourage a greater involvement of the membership in the institute's activities.

The recession is having significant adverse impact on the public, private, third and education sectors. The RTPI must do what it can to support the membership, particularly those who are badly affected.

Graduates especially are finding it very difficult to land that first job. Initiatives such as internships are not ideal but at least provide valuable experience which will strengthen applications when jobs come along. Volunteering for Planning Aid can offer valuable opportunities as well.

My career has included Sheffield during an exciting time for development and redevelopment. Many plans and projects followed such as Robin Hood Airport. Most testing was my Donnygate experience. Subsequently I have worked freelance for Hambleton, Richmondshire and private clients.

If elected I would seek to give effective leadership in the fundamental task of delivering the best planning system for the four nations, not forgetting its significant contribution to global issues. Having determined that climate change should be at its core, I would do what I could to put that into effect at all levels.

Finally, I would campaign vigorously to ensure that the institute and its membership are recognised for the key contribution they make to quality of life in the UK and abroad.

PETER GERAGHTY

I seek election as junior vice-president because I want an institute that is strong, responsive to members' needs and respected. Together we can achieve this.

The profession and public services are under threat as never before. I want to ensure that the RTPI protects the interests of the profession and its members. This is a time for a strong institute delivering good-quality services in a focused way.

Vote for me because I want the institute to do all it can to protect the public service and the interests of all planning professionals, fight for the needs of planners and encourage and support young planners, provide improved member services and stand as the acknowledged voice on spatial planning and practice.

Working in the public service, I experience the pressures that our colleagues are under, whether working in consultancies or local authorities. We need an institute that demonstrates to government the value of planning to the future prosperity of the country and promotes the importance of planning to the localism agenda.

For example, Planning Aid has been a major success story for the institute and has changed people's perception of planning. It has also given our young planners the opportunity to gain a wide range of expertise while providing valuable skills. The young planners are the future of our profession and we must ensure that Planning Aid and the work the institute does in influencing emerging planning policy is maintained.

After beginning my career in the private sector I worked for a number of local authorities and know well the pressures that planners face. While a student I joined the North West branch executive and subsequently I was Planning Aid representative for the London branch. In 2000, I was elected to the general assembly and latterly elected to the executive board. My commitment to the institute and profession is, therefore, longstanding.

My public and private sector experience will be valuable in the role of junior vice-president. I believe that I can help build a strong, responsive and respected institute and I ask for your support to achieve this.

DAVID MARSHALL

As a planning, transport and regeneration specialist with over 28 years experience in the public, private, academic and voluntary sectors, I offer experience at senior management level combined with being in touch with the membership, having been actively involved in the RTPI since 1987 at regional level and nationally since 1994.

In standing for election for junior vice-president, I hope to tackle the "so what's the RTPI ever done for me?" question so frequently asked by colleagues at various after-work soirees. We have made some progress in recent years but there is still some way to go.

In reality, the RTPI needs to give serious consideration to ensuring greater effective engagement with our most valuable resource - the rank and file membership.

This applies to current governance arrangements, where election of the trustees is currently one step removed from the membership via the general assembly. Effectively, the assembly elects the trustees but the relationship could be improved. It certainly extends to how executive decisions are communicated and how fee-paying members can get the most out of their institute through active participation.

It doesn't stop there. Government policy, especially in recent month, highlights the need to engage more effectively with the political process and with politicians of all persuasions so that the value of effective planning is reflected at the earliest stages of the process.

At the same time I believe that it is imperative to engage with allied professions to ensure that the need for effective planning is not lost in some erroneous view that future development is being hampered by planning red tape.

I am director of Spatial Synergy Ltd, which specialises in developing and delivering solutions in spatial strategy. I hope to be the first transport specialist to be president since Sir Colin Buchanan and only the second member from north-east England since the 1960s.

If elected, I will make effective engagement and action my first priority so that in future I won't need to explain to colleagues what the RTPI does for them.


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