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Ferguson and Thorp all set for presidential campaign

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Another candidate has stepped forward in the race for the RIBA presidency. Bristol-based George Ferguson has put an end to speculation with confirmation that he is standing for the post.

Ferguson, who calls himself 'notoriously irreverent towards authority', said that if successful he would make the RIBA 'more effective, more fun and less pompous'. And he pledged to shift attention away from the small band of star architects to the many quality designers working without due recognition around the country.

Small practice champion David Thorp has also declared his intention to stand. The Birminghambased sole practitioner has called for an end to the 'backslapping' of the larger practices. Thorp, who has proposed raising membership subscriptions to £1,000 a year, named Julian Owen and Elspeth Clements as two figures he would like to join him on the top table.

He promised to campaign for a fly-on-the-wall TV documentary like Vets in Practice as a way to raise public awareness of architects' work. 'We're not getting the message across to the public, ' he said. 'We have to show what we can do.'

Meanwhile, Brian Godfrey, who pledged last autumn to stand again, has bowed out. The antiLondon candidate lost to Paul Hyett last year with a platform described by some as 'negative'. Godfrey claims to have suffered from a campaign by key members of council to block his bid. 'I did have a reasonable chance, ' he said, 'but without the backing of some of the top people, it's just not worth it.'

Ex-president Rod Hackney welcomed Ferguson's announcement, calling him a positive thinker.

'He thinks the glass is half full, not half empty, ' he said. 'He understands what the ordinary architect is thinking and he's very good at networking.'

Ferguson, who is renowned for always wearing red trousers, would introduce a new quality of dress into the RIBA, Hackney said. 'Some on council like coming in without a tie, others like coming in braces. We haven't had one in red trousers before.'

The closing date for presidential bids is 28 February. Ballot papers will be issued at the beginning of April followed by a six-week voting period.

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