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It's a question of change for change's sake

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I would be the first to agree that the presidential debate at Portland Place was dull and lacked incisive argument. Maybe that was the nature of the forum and the lack of attendance and provocative questioning, except from Chris Roche, who it seems would not be satisfied with any candidate who did not propose to turn the RIBA on its head - in which case, why did he not stand?

Your leader and report on the debate (AJ 28.3.02) typifies the self-important, sneering nature of elements of the architectural press that has its little band of favourite stars, mainly in the heart of London, and gives scant credit to those who are fighting for a better built environment elsewhere. To imply that we are any less because we have not written a column for the AJ or been a partner of Richard Rogers, perfectly demonstrates this paucity of thinking. It has nothing to do with our real achievements and abilities.

Nobody having received my election address can accuse me of a lack of policy or experience, but I am not going to be drawn into promising change for change's sake - or controversy for the sake of the media. If every president comes into office promising unrealistic radical change, the RIBA will lose the current opportunity to build on the good work that is being done to raise the status of architecture and the profession everywhere. That is the job that has to be done, and that is the job I know I can do. To do that, I do not need to savage my opponents, with whom I hope to work for a common cause after the die is cast.

However, I do remain strongly opposed to the outside sponsorship of candidates or presidents, with its obvious dangers. Of course, the presidency has to be adequately resourced, but my sponsorship campaign will be for the RIBA Foundation and the ABS - not for myself.

George Ferguson, Acanthus Ferguson Mann, Bristol

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