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President Ferguson opened the conference with an introduction that was not his inaugural. In a lightning UK tour, digital camera ever ready, George made a plea for humane, child-friendly cities. Ad-libbing with aplomb, he set out his agenda based on his experiences as an architect and property speculator in Bristol. Cities for him, epitomised by Siena, exist to keep cows in fields, free from England's most hated signs - those outlining a house and pointing to a new suburban development. Sharing the Siena fascination, Richard Rogers then spoke about the Urban Regeneration Taskforce, alternating between arguments for urban compactness and his office's work.Was Astragal alone in feeling that the noble peer, while as passionate as ever, can hardly contain his frustration with Whitehall? Using the powerful example of kids' journeys to school, he showed how walking has dramatically given way to parental taxis, with obvious effects on congestion and pollution.

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