“Why are you here?” I was asked within minutes of arriving at the HTF conference in Cardiff. “You are the first medical person we have had at our conferences.”
That is why I am now writing this article!
I went with 4 hats on. I am a physiotherapist by profession and have always been interested in how places work and interact with the public whether disabled, child or able bodied adult. I am finance director for my husband’s company which is involved with the politics of a wide variety of projects including town developments and access to public transport. I have always been fascinated by geography especially human and spatial geography. But I found out about the conference as a member of committee of the chamber of commerce of a small, Saxon, hill top, market town in Dorset namely Shaftesbury famous for Gold Hill the home of the Hovis advert.
So what did I glean from the conference? I learnt a huge amount about public realm which I have always been interested in but not quite in the structured way that I was in Cardiff. Shaftesbury has some new shared space that no one seemed to understand. I went back to Dorset able to explain to the City of Cardiff how it worked although I was not very popular when I queried the double yellow lines they had added.
I discovered the art of the possible with the right design gurus and sufficient funding. I loved the intelligent display boards in St David’s 2, placed at the right height both for kids and wheel chair users.
It was great to reinforce the ideas I had had that if you get an area right for less able people then it works well for mums with pushchairs and heavy loads of shopping as well. It doesn’t have to be an us-and-them concept.
It was interesting to note that its not just medical conferences that have variety in the quality of their lectures and presentations. Similarly it is always difficult to decide which of the workshops or tours to take.
I love hearing about the planning stage and the logistics of a project. The way St David’s Dewi Sant was integrated with the old city was very clever. Although I was disappointed that the public transport links were less in evidence. The bus and especially train connections seemed less well developed particularly as the majority of local people would use this method of transport. I felt there was too much emphasis on the car and parking when the other transport was so close by.
In Shaftesbury we are looking into developing a local shuttle bus to alleviate some of our parking problems. I had hoped to gain more knowledge about integrated transport but that didn’t happen.
I loved the street art especially the bollards with peepholes. Perhaps if I was working as a physio in Cardiff I could attract more patients from the visitors who bend down too suddenly to study the pictures…..
Finance Director of Jonathan Roberts Consulting Ltd (HTF Member) / Chartered Physiotherapist