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It is a great honour to have been elected as President for the Council year 2012-2013. Firstly, I would like to sincerely thank our outgoing President, Brendan Allen, for his leadership, commitment and dedication to the Institute which he has not only demonstrated during his year as President but since first election to Council in 2004. As many of you are aware, Brendan is a former Treasurer of the Institute having served in that role for 6 years and successfully kept the Institute on a steady financial footing. Brendan whole heartily embraced the role as President and I am sure you will agree successfully maintained a strong media profile; continuously highlighting what the Institute does and how professional planners can and do make a difference to the built environment.
I am looking forward to the year ahead, although I anticipate that it may present many challenges and hope that with the continued support and dedication of council members and indeed all of you as members of the Institute that I will retain and strive to raise the profile of the Institute and raise awareness about the importance of having a sound planning system. With this in mind, I have two main objectives for the year ahead.
(1) Corporate Plan
The first is to prepare a corporate plan for the Institute. It is imperative that the Institute has a very clear direction as to what its strategic objectives for both the short and long term are. It is intended to consult with all members of the Institute with regard to the preparation of the corporate plan and to get feedback as to what the key objectives should be for the next few years. It is intended to hold various workshops with members over the next two to three months on a regional basis and to collate all members’ views on the direction you feel the Institute should be going. It is hoped to produce perhaps a 3-5 year plan, with 5-10 main objectives that can realistically be achieved within that period. I hope that you will all participate in some way to this initiative so that it accurately reflects all of the members’ views.
(2) Public Awareness/Education
My second objective is to seek to raise public awareness of how the planning system works and to encourage and establish initiatives to raise awareness of why people should actively engage in the planning system. We are all only too familiar with the findings of Judge Mahon after a lengthy tribunal and the recent review of local authorities carried out by the Department of Environment. It is a time when there is much talk of the need for change in both local government and in the planning system with increased pressure for improved efficiencies. The role of planning in delivering quality built environment and in particular the role of the planning profession in achieving this should not be diluted. Effective changes in the planning system can only be brought about through public participation where views of the majority of citizens are sought as to how we should plan for the future. Therefore, for this to happen, I hope to establish initiatives whereby the true meaning of public participation within the planning system can be exploited. It is hoped that the Institute would pilot a scheme of adult educational courses on the planning system and also examine the feasibility of running councillor/planner training courses during the council year. It is also hoped that more emphasis can be put on educating the future generation through the existing post primary and indeed perhaps the primary school curriculums.
General Activities for council year
National council are busy organising the main events such as the autumn conference, annual dinner and national conference. Details on these events will be available shortly but, in the interim, the Institute will issue “save the date” notices so you can mark events in your diary. Suggestions for CPD events are always welcome and can be emailed to the IPI office. Additionally, if anyone wishes to get involved in assisting to organise events please contact a member of national council.
With regard to the branches I hope to attend an event in all the branches during the year and meet committee members to discuss matters of concern and of mutual interest to national council.