You need a fair amount of will-power to substantially change a place. It takes determination and a plan.
During the early part of my trip to Lyon last week there were a couple of quotes which gave a glimpse of perhaps how you need to make things happen. And how you perhaps need to bin those who are there to make our lives complex.
Firstly when asked why there were not railings on a new river bank walk the comment was, “If people fall in the river they must be stupid”. My daughter refers to these people as TSTL* Then we were trying to get an explanation as to how a piece of public art had been procured, “He was a friend of the Mayor” was as far as we got.
The Mayor thing cropped up time and time again during the tour. The current Mayor is Gérard Collomb – appointed in 2001 he was re-elected in 2008. He is the prime mover. Although we didn’t meet him last week, we did meet one of his lieutenants – the Director of Transport. What was evident during his talk to us was that they are unapologetic politicians. When you challenge them about how they get things done without consultation (or with limited consultation) they simply shrug their shoulders and say that they have been elected and they have the power.
There is very much a ‘French way’ at play. You can’t help but wonder whether all of the procurement rules we abide by are strictly followed. I am not sure they are. They seem to have a game plan and stick to it. They get things done – which very much resonated with what I saw in Shanghai. In the meantime we find every reason not to press on. OJEU rules, Council procurement rules, rules generally.
I have a lwayer friend who descirbes those in his client checking department “Business Prevention Officers”.
Tomorrow – as pretty as an airport…
* Too Stupid To Learn