Stuart Lipton was on good form at the BCO annual conference in Paris last week. Relaxed and among friends, he almost burst into song as he quoted from the words of Cole Porter's I Love Paris and extolled the 'qualities of place' in the French capital. However, his tone darkened when answering a question from member of the audience representing the Greater London Authority. The former chairman of CABE, who has been a long-term campaigner for better public space, responded sharply to a question he presumably felt was a little frustrating. 'In the last four years, since the mayor was elected, ' he snapped, 'I have not seen the quality of the public realm in London increase one bit!' At which point the audience burst into applause.