Friday, December 14, 2007

Working out where we stand

The doctor was satisfied today that my blood pressure was 'normal', for a change. Whatever small adjustments I have made in my diet and lifestyle in recent months, not to mention getting back to vigorous cycling and walking, is hopefully taking effect. It doesn't alter the fact that the régime of medication he's kept me on has led to my being refused an annual travel insurance policy by Boots Travel. And, it's a preventative prescription, not just a damage limitation one. Annoying.

We had a Business Safe Board of Management meeting today, continuing to work out where we stand in relation to the city government, and how to ensure the current enforced distancing of City Centre Management employees from CBS work doesn't lead to more chaos and communication problems. Whatever was intended, it's sabotaging the situation and grievously undermining staff morale.

Add to this the chaos surrounding the enforced 'transformation' of St Mary Street into a pedestrian zone, undertaken without any consultation with the Bus Companies about how they are going to get passengers in and out of the city, either from near or far away, and you have some idea of just how old style leadership in local government is simply not fit for purpose. Officers complain that politicians interfere too much, politicians never seem to be fully in the picture, whether because they cannot understand the picture or because the vital information is being withheld - who knows?
This week, saw the resignation of Councillor Elgan Morgan, who has been overseeing city centre changes (which I know have been on the Officers' agenda since well before he was elected to the present Council), and the appointment of Simon Wakefield, a local academic with city centre knowledge and planning expertise. It's a poisoned chalice, but he has a good sense of humour, and can call a spade a spade in a way that makes people smile. That's got to be an asset in this presently grim situation.

I also learned today that Cardiff Business Safe features as the communications network for use in the City Centre's Emergency Evacuation Plan. This is good news, and re-enforces the need for CBS to secure its operational future, and its independence from the vagaries of local politics and the current back office intrigue distancing local government from CBS. There is a way forward, and it requires that we are very clear about our 'mission', and our boundaries.

Thinking about this, we had the Kidney Wales carol service at St John's this evening, with me in the role as liturgical compère, at the insistence of my good friend Roy Thomas, the charity's chairman. Now Kidney Wales is a model of clarity about its 'mission' as a charity in support of the kidney transplant service, and enables thousands of people to pull together in fund-raising and publicity education campaigns. One can say that the nature of the cause gives it a unifying focus.

The same should be true of an enterprise devoted to crime prevention, as a service to public welfare, but in reality the weakening of social concensus, moral laxity, over-tolerance of certain kinds of dysfunction, discourtesy and bad manners numb the senses. We call things 'a crime' which aren't, and overlook things which are crimes. This can lead to a blurring of the focus on crime prevention, and ambivalence to the purpose of CBS. If the church were more forthcoming about values that are an antidote to crime and disorder, maybe social concensus would be less diffuse and the focus of CBS would be consequently sharper. If only .... Why am I involved, if not for this?

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