Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Rubbish - keeping on the case

Since Friday last, a large un-emptied wheelie bin with a Council logo on the front, has stood at the north west corner of the church tower overflowing with rubbish on to the street. In fact, it was joined in that position by two bins from the Owain Glyndwr, and left there, after they were emptied and not put away in their bin store. Sunday Evening I rang the Council's 101 problem solving referral unit to report the bin, and was told it would be emptied on Monday morning.

Monday passed. Tuesday morning came. On my way to the City Centre Retail Partnership monthly meeting I took a photo of the bin to show to Steve, the operations manager, to see if he could get it cleared away on the fifth day since its arrival. He was not un-surprised at my report, as Waste Management seems to be fraught with management problems at the moment, such that the boss is on sick leave. He kindly printed out the picture, so we could get a better look at it and show it around the office. Then it occurred to me that I was about to walk into a meeting with the Council's Chief Executive Byron Davies. He's always friendly and considerate towards me, and when I saw him he came over and shook my hand and asked how things were going. I just couldn't resist showing the picture and telling the story. He calmly took out his phone and exused himself while he spoke to some poor soul in waste management. He returned after a few moments promising it would be removed straight away.

He spoke at the meeting, addressing retailers' concerns over the impact of pedestrianising St Mary Street, the inadequacy of shoppers parking and public transport issues. He announced the set up of a weekly forum of all involved in service delivery, presided over by himself, to ensure every problem was spotted and tackled, during the next two years of reconstruction and major change to the appearance and running of the city centre. When I returned to the church two hours later, the wheelie bin was still there, and it remained there all night.

When I arrived for the Wednesday Eucharist, it was still there, half emptied. And this obstructing part of the very busiest pedestrian thoroughfare of the city! Not even the city's CEO can work miracles. For all the rhetoric about partnership working, there remains a protectionist proprietorial culture in which section bosses don't always take orders willingly. You'd think they'd all want to work for the good of the city all the time not some of the time, but so often it seems this is not the case. The next couple of years will be a real challenge for the city's elected members and local government officers. Can they deliver the vision of a 'proud capital' which they proclaim? Will the world want to invest in it?

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