This is your last chance to vote in the current elections for junior vicepresident, general assembly and, if you are an assembly member, for the board of trustees. Make sure that you use it.
Your vote will count in strengthening the democratic foundations of the RTPI, in representing members' views in the services we provide and in influencing government, other professional institutions, our partners and the general public.
If you don't vote now, your chance to play a part in choosing senior active members of the institute for the next year will be lost to us all.
We have three candidates for junior vice-president, 11 assembly candidates for three places on the board of trustees. Eighteen corporate member candidates have put themselves forward for 14 places on the assembly with six student and licentiate member candidates for three places on the assembly. You can vote electronically ... it's easy.
Members of the assembly take part in formative debates about the planning policy stance and corporate policy direction of the institute and advise the trustees on grass roots member opinion. Trustees take collective responsibility for strategic decisions about institute policies, budgets, programmes and services.
If you decide to stand for junior vice-president in future, you would support the senior vice-president and chair one or two committees. Advancing to senior vice-president, you would chair the board of trustees and manage, enable and sometimes lead trustees in their thinking and decisions.
As president, you become the public face and ambassador of the institute. This involves visiting the regions and nations and international events, attending formal engagements and meeting ministers and senior government officials to put the case for planning.
Current president Ann Skippers has advocated the need to strengthen the role of the assembly, while junior vice-president Colin Haylock has argued that we should choose as his successor a candidate who best represents our priorities for planning and planners.
Finally, immediate past president Martin Willey has emphasised the need for a variety of knowledge and expertise on the assembly and board of trustees.
My own plea to you is to use your democratic vote to bring in new ideas to the vital governance and leadership roles of the profession and increase the turnout at these important elections. If you usually think that your vote won't make a difference or your institute isn't giving you the value you want or promoting the interests of planners ... think again and act now.
Richard Summers is RTPI senior vice-president and head of planning at The Landscape Partnership. For more information on the election, please visit www.rtpi.org.uk.