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We need more Barry people to show us the way; Step forward into limelight.

Byline: Peter Collins

IT WAS confirmed this week, to my satisfaction at least, that if you want something done well and without fuss turn to a Barry man. Or woman.

As time passes, my faith in human nature, particularly in this age of political correctness, erodes.

With that political correctness in mind, I felt obliged to add the ungrammatical "or woman" in the opening paragraph because I knew that if I didn't I would be open to some silly charge of sexism.

I was reduced this week to banging my desk, swearing at the wall, and raiding my diminishing stock of calming chamomile tea. I would have pulled my hair out as well, but I'm getting a bit thin on top and want to preserve what I've got.

My exasperation was caused by someone whose strict adherence to rules, regulations, protocols and procedures rendered them unable to make a simple decision. I'll explain a little later, when I've calmed down again.

In many ways, Barrians are different.

I've written here before about how the debilitating apathy of the otherwise good people of Barry has been partly to blame for the decline of the town.

But if you can overcome that apathy (and it's done largely through education) there is no better example of a sensible human being than your Barry man. Or woman. Step forward into the limelight Dr Jonathan Hicks.

Dr Hicks is the new headteacher at St Cyres Comprehensive School in Penarth.

Very impressive and really quite posh. The good news is that Dr Hicks is from Barry.

"Like you, I'm a Barry boy," he proudly told me this week.

He was standing amid the devastation of his flooded school. As an introduction to a new job it doesn't get more dramatic than walking into your office on your first day to see flood water gushing down the corridor.

Dr Hicks took time out to explain the situation and even put pressure on the Assembly Government to quickly release funds for a new school project on the site. He immediately allowed our photographer inside to take pictures of the damage.

Being a Barry boy, Dr Hicks didn't feel obliged to obfuscate, temper his comments or refer our request to take pictures to his superiors or, worst of all, a council committee.

No, he took the view that he was headteacher and it was his decision for which he would take full responsibility. That is Barry at its best.

How different to the person who had me cursing and guzzling chamomile tea. Needless to say, she wasn't from Barry.

We wanted to take a simple photograph in a care home outside Barry. The person in charge declined, saying she had to refer it to her manager. The request was then referred to the assistant director who, I fear, felt obliged to refer it to the director - by which time I had lost patience and started swearing at the wall.

My wife, who works in a care home, had some sympathy with the woman who had made my life so difficult. We agreed to disagree.

Too many people in positions of moderate responsibility are almost literally afraid of their own shadows, reluctant to make decisions in case something goes wrong or they contravene procedures.

But what is the point of having wellpaid managers, particularly in the public sector, who are constantly watching their backs, concerned only to play it safe and do nothing wrong? "It's more than my job's worth," is a refrain that one hears far too often these days from often overpaid apparatchiks who are of little use to anyone but themselves.

No wonder not much gets done in this country where there is a sullen mood of just looking after number one. We need more people like Barry boy Dr Hicks to show us the way.


Barry born and bred St Cyres Comprehensive School headteacher Jonathan Hicks PICTURE: Liz
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 11, 2010
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