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Ferguson pledges fresh start after heat of election battle

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Triumphant George Ferguson has pledged to put aside grudges after an election campaign that saw him crowned RIBA president-elect last week.

The 55-year-old father of three played down election hostilities over sponsorship and personality squabbles and said experience and quality won him the day.He won 60 per cent of the final poll, nearly 3,800 votes, while just over 2,500 people gave Annette Fisher 40 per cent. David Thorp trailed in third with 1,400 votes.His votes were re-allocated to the other two candidates under the election's Single Transferable Vote system.The turnout was 24 per cent.

'Annette's sponsorship may have been an issue, but we probably agreed on 80 per cent of the issues, ' said the former Liberal councillor. 'I have broad experience of practice, the regions and public services and I'm not anti London.This gave me a broad constituency, and I have a clear mandate.'

Ferguson insisted he held no grudges after the campaign and would 'build bridges'. But he 'reserved judgement' on any future roles for the losers. 'No one has a given right to play a part just because they stood for president, 'he said.

He said as president his focus will be on youth.'We want to create more understanding of architecture among the young. If you can get to them you can get to anyone.They are the future architects, clients and politicians.'

He was unmoved by criticisms of low voter turnout.'It was the same apathy that we usually get at the RIBA, and we will have to look at the election process. Voting should be two weeks after ballots have gone out rather than six weeks.'

Fisher said: 'The result shows that the monopoly of big practices and older architects can and will be broken up. I'm hopeful the new council will have more women and younger people.'

David Thorp was pleased with his share of the vote.'George has weight and will make a good president, 'he said.

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