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Devon man Godfrey joins RIBA race

Small practitioner Brian Godfrey is set to join the race to become RIBA president. The 64-year-old RIBA council member is planning to stand with policies which will challenge the RIBA's London bias and favour small practices.

Godfrey runs a four-strong office in Teignmouth, Devon, and plans to take on former RIBA director general Alex Reid and education vice-president Paul Hyett in the February election. Both men declared their intention to stand last week and have outlined their full policy intentions in this week's AJ (see page eight).

In a further twist, John Wright, candidate in 1999, is also on the verge of throwing his hat in the ring.Wright has been a supporter of Hyett but now looks likely to stand himself after Hyett revealed he wants to keep onemember, one-vote presidential elections. Wright wants an electoral college where the 60 members of the RIBA Council will vote for the president, which he says will improve the continuity of leadership.

But Godfrey's success will be based on winning the support of the eight out of 10 practices on the RIBA register which have less than 10 staff.

'I might not be a big hitter, but small practices should have their day, ' Godfrey said. 'I just don't think it's right the way the RIBA is run at the moment. It is just a London-based exercise.'

Godfrey has assembled a £3,000 war chest for his campaign and is currently gathering the 60 signatures necessary for his nomination papers.He has been backed by the south-west region of the RIBA.Final nominations must be made by 30 November.

Meanwhile, Hyett has put education at the heart of his manifesto, while Reid is concentrating on improving services to members.

Their candidacies were met with disappointment by some architects who are hoping for a bigger name to lead the institute.

'I would hope there would be more contenders in the same spirit as Marco Goldschmied, more design driven, ' said Roger Stephenson, partner in Stephenson/Bell. 'No disrespect to these two, but their primary attributes are not design. They are into the whole business of running the RIBA.'

Future Systems partner Amanda Levete said the president should 'be able to go on Newsnight and command the respect of the profession'.He or she should not be afraid 'to stir things up', she added.

A string of high-profile names have already told the AJthat they will not stand, including Stephenson, Will Alsop, Robin Nicholson, Rab Bennetts and Richard Murphy.

'A big name architect might find it difficult to bring together the diverse interests of the RIBA, ' said Reid, who admits that he has never designed a building in his career. 'There are more diverse ways you can do a good job.'

Sources close to the contest said that new RIBA chief executive Richard Hastilow is privately unhappy at Reid's candidacy because it is just five months since Reid left the director general post at Portland Place. Hastilow refused to confirm or deny this and said that he would work with whoever wins the election.

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