Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Townscape without captions

At last, the blue painted hoarding around the churchyard has some large prints of children's art work on it, the winners of a competition run by 'Keep Cardiff Tidy' in Cardiff primary schools. Although they are large posters, they float in an expanse of blue, so long and tall is the site hoarding. So far, three winning entries appear, and the best of them is duplicated at either end. All contain messages to encourage people to bin their litter. I wish they'd been as large as the full hoarding sized posters mounted by the SD2 developers (in English and in Welsh) trumpeting about their sponsorship. It's a glaring anomaly, not exactly conveying the intended message.

I heard today also that there's a delay on producing the posters to cover all the expanse of blue hoarding around the construction sites - posters meant to inform the public about what's going on behind, and what the outcomes will be. This merely makes it a lot more difficult to get the public on-site, make all citizens into interested spectator participants at least, rather than hoi polloi to whose social and cultural environment huge things can be done without the courtesy of a decent explanation.

There seems to be a lack of will on the part of SDII's high level of leadership to understand how it would be in their best interests not to leave Cardiffians in the dark, to compound their apathy and disinterest. These are the people who'll be needed eventually as loyal shoppers, maybe employees. They don't need to be convinced that none of this is for them at such an early stage.

Those at a high level concerned with the interface between the development enterprise and the public are neglecting to ensure that good ideas are followed through with efficient progress chasing, so that deadlines are met, so that staff on the ground are not constently left apologising for the failure of suppliers to deliver or people higher up to issue timely permissions. Not enough energy, nor, for all I know, money has been invested in selling the SDII vision of the future to those who'll have to live with it.

The construction companies plan well, work hard, chase progress and may well finish ahead of time. Delays cost. There are penalty clauses in contracts for failures to deliver to deadlines on which others depend. I wonder if those contracted to take on public relations aspects of the project have deadline penalty clauses, high level progress chasers and trouble shooters hounding them? It certainly doesn't look like it, judging by the lack of progress I am able to observe from the sidelines. I feel sorry for the people I know and see every day with worried looks, apologies and excuses to offer, rather than smiles of satisfaction at a successful achievement. At a most interesting time in Cardiff's history, we have a townscape without captions. Without them when we need them most.

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