It’s been a very busy couple of weeks in politics with the political parties releasing their manifestos. A dozen and counting. Here at the RTPI we have drawn out the salient planning and built environment issues for our members so that they can quickly get across what each of the parties are saying. We have been looking in detail not just at the proposed policies of the major parties but also what the SNP, the DUP, the Greens and others are saying in key areas of interest to us.
During the election we have been regularly updating our members, as speedily as possible, with what has been going on, to keep them as informed as we can. Watch Trudi Elliott, our Chief Executive, explain our General Election resources for members and the work we have been doing to influence the parties over the past two years. One of my roles at the Institute is to help track what the parties are saying and to produce a weekly campaign summary. It you haven’t yet, why not give it a read?
Past the half way stage for campaigning, and with only a few weeks therefore until the election day, businesses, organisations, community are interest groups are all trying to position themselves in order to hit the ground running when the new government, in whatever form, takes shape. Achieving this is difficult as there are countless voices who have been trying to make themselves heard within a sector that has a huge number of different stakeholders.
Our members have made a vital contribution to the work that we are doing and the work that we will need to do after May 7. On our website you can find information and advice on how to get involved during the election by writing to your prospective party candidates. Our members are respected voices who can help to urge politicians across the political spectrum to support the positive planning policies we need. They can also act as ambassadors with the public explaining the importance of planning.
With our members support and input we have had a long programme of engagement, relationship building and communicating with the political parties and our key stakeholders. Trudi Elliott, our Chief Executive outlined the detailed work we have been doing in the March edition of The Planner magazine. This body of work - which includes many policy and research reports with key recommendations – has helped to ensure we are in a strong position after May 7 regardless of who forms the next government. Planning in the next Parliament outlines 10 proposals for planning post-election and it is the result of 18 months of research and policy development. Not only is it based on the results of this extensive work but we have spent a lot of time communicating and discussing the merits of the findings and recommendations directly with stakeholders and the political parties. There isn’t anything in our election document that will come as a surprise to the parties.
Our work isn’t just about making our case to politicians. It is also about convincing the public about the value and benefit of positive planning and meaningful community engagement. So not only are we engaging with politicians but directly with the public through such campaigns as Homes for Britain which aims to help tackle the housing crisis. Through our Future Planners initiative we are engaging with young people in schools.
The RTPI is fortunate to have the type of members that we do, who are so passionate about their profession and who demonstrate such a high level of engagement.
The issues we are involved with will remain whatever the outcome of the election and are those that have a fundamental impact on people’s day to day lives: how to house their family, educate their children, and how we help to plan and provide the facilities we need to care for the sick and the elderly.
The community sometimes forgets that planning facilitates all of these things, or fails to make the connection between the role of planners and planning and their new schools, recreational facilities and green spaces. Given our mission to promote the art and science of town planning, our role at elections and in between elections is therefore two-fold: making the case for positive planning policies and reminding the public just how important planning, including engaging with planning, is to their everyday lives.
We work, of course, across the UK and Ireland (as well as internationally). With such a concentration on the UK general election, it should not be forgotten that there are national elections across each of the nations coming up in 2016 and beyond. So we are engaging with politicians in each of the nations about their individual planning systems.
Our members’ commitment to planning and to their Institute, demonstrated now for over 100 years, provides us with an enviable reputation as a critical friend and an organisation that comes up with solutions to problems. Such a long history also reminds us that planning policy changes over time but we are always here to help the public engage with the planning system. We have been around a very long time. This is our 25th general election. With our members beside us the RTPI will work within the next parliament to deliver positive planning outcomes for people, businesses and communities as we have in every parliament since 1914.