Thursday, July 09, 2009

Not only employees but stakeholders

Once again I had to rush from the midday Eucharist to the Castle for a meeting of the Countdown 2009 group concerned with transport, way-finding and acess concerns in the city centre. This time we met in a vaulted room below ground floor level, used as part of the Victorian Bute family's romantic attempt to return wine production to Wales.

A vineyard was planted on the slopes below Castell Coch, clone of a mediaeval Rhineland Schloss built on the site of a mediaeval ruin in Tongwynlais at the edge of the modern Borough in the late nineteenth century. My father spent several years growing up in nearby in Taffs Well at the end of the First World War. He recounted the presence of the vineyard there to me when I was young. It's funny, the kind of associations you have to deal with, when trying to focus on business in hand.

The business of this work group is meant to be concluded by the time the new city centre retail area opens this autumn. I can't see this happening. Keeping the city moving, whether on wheels or on foot is an evolutionary process, unpredictable, dependent on what individuals decide to do, how they do it, and whether or not the influence that can be exerted upon them is effective.

My guess is that with all the best technology available, it will take a couple of years after the launch of the new St David Centre and John Lewis Store to establish a predictable manageable pattern of movement, in and out of the city centre for people and vehicles, to deliver current aspirations. Not good news for those charged with driving the task to completion maybe. The developers deliver their best, and on time. Presumably their financial backers are aware that unpredictable elements are part of their investment product.

Getting public transport to run reliably on time is a vital factor in making a success of the city centre redevelopment. This is a complex and difficult, operation given the projected increase of traffic into the centre from retail workers, suppliers and shoppers needing vehicle access. All this increasing demand leads to greater congestion. Success brings its own problems. Consumers are fussy these days. Satisfying everyone seems like an impossible task. I admire all those who strive to obtain information and get things right in their work day by day.

Every now and then, someone at these meetings will say something that alerts me to the fact that those paid to work on these projects are equally affected by the outcome. A reminder of the biblical idea that we are all 'members of one another'.

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