Thursday 1st June marked the start of Volunteer Week, a chance to recognise the invaluable contribution volunteers make to our Institute. The RTPI would be a very different organisation were it not for its many volunteer members.
There are well over 1,000 members who freely give their time and expertise in support of the Institute, from the Trustees on the Board, to the members of the General Assembly and all those in the nations and regions, who organise CPD events, summer socials and a host of other activities, to the judges of our regional and national awards and of course our Young Planners. They also include our unsung heroes, the APC Assessors and our Planning Aid members without whom the RTPI would not be able to fulfill our important objectives as set out in the Royal Charter, namely ensuring that Chartered Town Planners are of the highest standard of education and competence and to advance the science and art of town planning for the benefit of the public.
As a democratically run Institute, our members are at the forefront of the decisions that shape quality places and spaces. The nominations have now opened for elections to the Board of Trustees, the General Assembly and for the Vice President 2024, who will become President in 2025. All members will have received an email from Mivoice inviting nominations.
The RTPI volunteer survey conducted during volunteer week 2022 found that 95% of our volunteers would recommend volunteering to others, 69% said that they feel that their work contributes to helping achieve the objectives of a work area of the institute and 62% felt that their contribution makes a difference to the wider planning profession. That is a powerful message from our volunteers. So please consider standing for election, you too can make a difference.
I began my volunteer journey with the RTPI as a co-opted member of the then Planning Policy Committee which became the Planning Policy and Research Committee and I subsequently sat on that committee as a member. I also sat on the England Policy Panel when the legendary Chris Shepley was chair. As I became more involved in the work of the RTPI, I stood for the General Assembly, was elected and subsequently stood for the Board, first as a Chartered Trustee and then as Chair.
The key driver for me has always been to seek to improve the way in which the RTPI works, in both its external affairs and its internal relationships, including with its members. The RTPI has changed considerably over the years, and I have been part of that change. Hopefully, you will agree that the changes have been for the better.
So why did I stand for President? As President, you are the Chair of the General Assembly. The Trustees and members of the GA during and as part of the governance review, reaffirmed the role of the GA in the governance structure of the institute as the forum for debate about the development of planning policy and practice and the corporate policy of the institute. When I first stood, my election ‘manifesto’ for the GA was ‘If elected to the General Assembly, I would work to ensure that the debate is lively and relevant … and that the Institute continues to provide strong, professional leadership….’
The GA in 2023, the debates in the four GA meetings this, year will be lively and relevant. In June the GA will be discussing the digital transformation of the profession. These 4 discussions will inform emerging RTPI policy on the important planning issues of the day.
I start my visits around the nations and regions in June, beginning with the East Midlands. I look forward to meeting you and having the opportunity to see the best of planning in practice.