Diary

Congratulations to RTPI chief policy adviser Kelvin MacDonald, who has just returned triumphant from the gruelling New York marathon.

Wowing the crowds with his kilt and tam o'shanter, MacDonald finished the marathon in a respectable five hours and 12 minutes, raising £910 for charity Get Kids Going. A veteran of the London marathon, he says that the highlight of the New York event was the frenetic crowd support.

Around two million people lined the streets and most were cheering him on. The Scottish fancy dress got him noticed, he says. "Hardly anyone in the New York marathon wears fancy dress. They are all serious."

MacDonald also kept his motivation up by observing how the scenery changed as he ran through the districts of the Big Apple. "We went through Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, which are areas that you would not visit as a tourist. From a planning point of view, it was fascinating."

He describes his run as "not very fast or elegant", adding: "I can nearly walk in a straight line now." Refusing to rule out a repeat performance, he comments: "It would be nice to come in under five hours."

Some speeches can be so lengthy and dull, so it was a pleasant change to hear Sir Digby Jones fondly reminisce about the morning he was appointed trade minister.

Speaking at the Core Cities Summit, he said he was waiting in vain for a taxi at 5am to whisk him to the BBC for an interview. "I called the BBC and the producer said: 'What do you mean you're still waiting? You're in the back of a taxi about two minutes away from the studio.'"

After explaining that in fact he was still outside his house, a Mercedes whizzed up. "Out stepped this guy with a dirty white T-shirt, grey tracksuit bottoms, a cap round the wrong way, a can of lager in one hand and a mobile phone in the other," Jones remembers.

When he enquired what had happened, the driver said: "He was sitting on the wall of your flat and I said: 'Are you Sir Digby Jones?' and he said 'Yes.'" The mystery man clearly found the mix-up hilarious, telling his phone buddy how he was confused with "a bloke called Sir Digby".

Eminent environmentalist Jonathon Porritt does not mince his words on his latest blog about rising housing targets.

Porritt is less than impressed with the National Housing and Planning Advice Unit's (NHPAU) call for 270,000 homes per year. Its report is "mind-bogglingly inadequate" and contains a "tokenistic" reference to higher environmental standards that is just there to provide the merest green veneer, he fumes. Its advice offers "literally sod all" on sustainability, he concludes.

However, it is not only the NHPAU that gets it in the neck. Porritt does not rate the Treasury highly either. He slams the "economic wonks" whose only knowledge of sustainable development is the ability to spell the words on 34 "largely meaningless" occasions.

The Sustainable Development Commission chairman rounds off his diatribe with the hope that someone will take their green pen to the unit's report. It seems as though he has done that already and given it a big fat cross.


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