Friday, December 07, 2007

Tidying up time

Advent so far seems to be tidying up time for me.

Lately I acquired the (hopefully temporary) role of Company Secretary to Cardiff Business Safe Limited, the organisation which addresses the problem of Business Crime in the City. It was a way to say 'thank you' for the charitable gift of a radio subscription to St John's Tea Room, to help us cope with the problem of our persistent purse thief. We all cheered when, several weeks ago now, he was again caught with evidence of his activities, and later asked for several other crimes, out of his hundreds, to be taken into consideration. One small piece of evidence that anti Business Crime networking works. I'd say it's pretty essential to everyone trying to earn a living out of retail trading in the city.

The demise of the CBS Limited sponsoring body Cardiff Initiative over a year ago, shook the foundations somewhat, and neglected some of its administrative activities in the fervent pursuit of the day to day operation of crime prevention. There was a bit of a mess, and I offered as a church representative of the Retail Partnership Board, to try and sort out the annual returns for Companies House. I'm well known in church circles as hostile to excessive administration, but none of my moaning about this for the past five years has made a jot of difference, so I comply grudgingly and as diligently as I can. But, looking at what hadn't been done for CBS Limited, I thought, I've seen this kind of admin before, as a director of St Teilo Arts Trust, school governor and as Team Rector. So why not just pitch in and give a hand, tidy things up a bit?

It hasn't taken a huge amount of time - not even a re-write of the Constitution now needed in the light of changed circumstances. Getting it adopted by stakeholders in CBS is another matter, but that's a task for the New Year. The City Council didn't what anything to do with CBS when Cardiff Initiative collapsed. It rescued the essential enterprise of City Centre Management and Cardiff Marketing by taking on their staff and paying them. This wasn't necessary for CBS, as its Business Crime Prevention Co-ordinator is paid by South Wales Police as one of their Community Support Officers, and it was generating a modest income and seemingly not vulnerable - except for the background tasks of administrative and management support. This has proved to be the Achillee's heel threatening to bring down the whole operation.

People paid a whole lot better than me didn't spot this strategic error. Moreover, the Council management insisted that its new employees distance themselves from CBS Ltd, with the excuse of 'conflict of interests'. A better comedian than I on Radio 4 would make mincemeat of the logic of that notion. If active support for an anti-business crime organisation that provides security radios for the city centre is contrary to Council employees 'interests', does this mean the Council is backed by the Mafia or something? Don't say a word ....

Now I think it will be possible for things to be sorted out properly. New Directors have got a grip on the situation and are vigorously reminding Council high-ups that there's a blind-spot, and that continuing the way it has been lately could have been catastrophic for anl outfit which has been intsrumental in tackling cime and disorder problems successfuly and ensures the city centre is a safer place. If anyone out of sight in the corridors of power was hoping CBS Ltd would fall over and die quietly, they got another think coming. Maybe even egg on their face. The Business Community knows what does it good, and what doesn't. Practical common sense will prevail.

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