Candidate urges profession to lead new planning system

Richard Summers outlines his agenda as he seeks election to the position of RTPI junior vice-president.

I am standing for RTPI junior vice-president to lead and represent the profession, to encourage planning practitioners to play a greater role in the RTPI and to deliver better services to members. This is a lifetime opportunity to strengthen our profession, develop spatial planning and help shape tomorrow's places.

We should use the new system to show how planners can lead in aligning policy and investment and in engaging local communities. There may not be enough of us but more young planners are entering the profession. The planning system may be complex but the institute is determined to help improve it.

I have broad experience of RTPI activities at regional and national levels. After serving on the East of England branch executive committee, I became its chairman. I set up systems to secure press coverage and make the conference programme viable and I later represented the branch on council.

I have served on the general assembly from the outset and have been a trustee on the executive board. I was instrumental in using the branches' review to set up the RTPI regions, and was active in the fitness for purpose review to restructure the corporate RTPI. I now lead the steering group on effective practice in spatial planning.

I believe fervently in spatial planning, sustainable development and tackling climate change. My work in consultancy and local government confirms the need to integrate spatial planning and economic development at all levels. My consultancy work overseas has shown what the RTPI can achieve internationally.

We must clarify and strengthen the roles and relationships of the general assembly and executive board to open up dialogue in developing policy. We should simplify the structure of committees, panels, networks, associations, regions and nations to enable greater member engagement through to the general assembly and executive board.

If you elect me, I will seize the opportunity to promote better understanding between public and private sectors and support greater integration of spatial planning and economic development. We must increase the number and status of planners in local government and recognise the regional, national and ethnic diversity of our membership. Above all, we must extend the planning profession's voice and influence in government and business.

- Richard Summers is senior consultant at SQW Consulting.

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