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Shipley urges architects to play greater political role

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Labour MP Debra Shipley has issued a rallying call to architects to become more politically active and to start lobbying Parliament.

The MP for Stourbridge and joint chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Architecture and Planning is inviting all small and medium-sized practices to a reception to meet MPs in an effort to raise the political profile of architecture. The event, being held jointly with RIBA president Paul Hyett, will take place at the House of Commons next Wednesday (23 October) at 4pm.

Shipley said architecture and the built environment had no political profile within Westminster.

'Architects have got to get seriously politically active, ' Shipley said. 'They've got to be in there lobbying their own MPs. They should all be on first-name terms with their MPs, getting themselves up to Westminster and talking to them about issues.'

She added: 'As an MP, I get other businesses lobbying me without mercy. Architects don't do that.'

RIBA's head of government relations, Jonathan Labrey, said there had been a good response from politicians to the initiative and urged members to take part. He said the event would give MPs some idea of what they can do to encourage their ministers to promote architecture, and draw attention to the difficulties PFI presents to small practices.

'I think we are finally getting through to MPs that architecture and the built environment matters. Finally, they have seen the connection between what architects do and the lives of their constituents.'

The RIBA will be using the reception to launch a best practice document championing the work of small practices. For a free ticket call 020 7307 3741.

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