Skip to main content
Close Menu Open Menu

Susan Bridge: My first week as RTPI President

Susan Bridge FRTPI is RTPI President 2023

The highlight so far, after my inauguration, has definitely been meeting some of our wonderful past presidents the following day. The level of interest and engagement they still have in the affairs of the institute and in planning itself is uplifting and inspiring. I do believe I heard an animated conversation about the changes to the Use Classes Order (or similar) at some point in the afternoon! Thanks to you all for a very entertaining afternoon.

I set out my theme for 2023 in my inauguration speech. I am calling for the profession to be much more proactive about demonstrating the benefits of planning to society.  At the same time, society can’t expect planners to do more and more with less and less. The lack of resources for planning services is having a real and detrimental impact on the economy of this country.  You can read or watch my speech in full here.  

There is no doubt that the lack of resources is having an adverse effect on our mental health, putting pressure on planners in every sector.  I was therefore delighted to launch the new health and wellbeing and legal helplines. The RTPI’s mental health and wellbeing hub is also regularly updated on the website and has useful information for individuals and employers.  

This year The Planner’s annual survey of planning careers has a strong emphasis on wellbeing in the workplace. The survey is open to all members so please take a few minutes to complete it. We need as full and up to date picture as possible of the stresses and strains faced by planners so we can present hard evidence to Governments.

 We also have some information from The Big Conversation in Wales which found that under resourcing, harassment, and internet trolling has left more than 75% of planners overstretched. It makes harrowing reading in part, but it is good to know that you are not alone and that the RTPI is here to help. I will be reporting on progress regularly throughout the year. 

I am also having to do my homework, learning about the ambassadorial role of the President. So different from being the Chair of the Board. One of my most important roles is chairing the General Assembly. This year, through my blogs and articles I intend to showcase the work of the General Assembly and its importance to the life of the Institute. The GA comprises of directly elected members and nominees from the Nations and Regions.  It is the debating chamber or think tank of the institute, it holds the Board of Trustees to account, receiving reports from the Chair of the Board and the Chairs of the standing committees. Members of the GA are also the electorate for the Chair of the Board and the Trustees. I look forward to highlighting some of its work throughout the year. More on this in a few months.

I have had an intense session with our International Lead, Béatrice Crabb. The Board approved the International Strategy in 2021 and the International Committee has now prepared an ambitious implementation plan that recognises the synergies and interdependencies with the work of other standing committees and acknowledges the importance of internationally focused groups in engaging planners with global challenges at a local level, giving member opportunities to get involved.

I am excited at the prospect of chairing the Global Planners Network; my first meeting is on 23 February. The RTPI partners with several international organisations. In addition to the GPN, it is also the largest member of the Commonwealth Association Planners. Our RTPI representative on CAP is Past President Ian Tant and Olafiyin Taiwo leads CAP Young Planners Network. These are just two of the organisations we are affiliated with and part of. I shall be blogging about these and the opportunities available to RTPI members through these international organisations soon.

That’s it for now. Watch this space for more news and views next month.

Back to top