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REGULARS - IN THE DIRECTOR'S CHAIR

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A day in the life of David Gilbert ...
A day in the life of David Gilbert

This week has seen me celebrate the demolition of a disused industrial building, seen my football team on Sky Sports and been mistaken for Clive Anderson in the local supermarket.

My role as director of regeneration embraces economic development, planning, community development, tourism and all external funding. However, regeneration is much more than that as we look to invigorate the county and increase prosperity.

We are working with the Welsh Development Agency and private sector to deliver an ambitious five-year plan, the first of its kind in Wales, with the aim of transforming the local economy and improving the employment prospects for residents.

My typical week involves meetings with various staff, other organisations, businesses and the community.

This week I was at the annual European Rural Exchange Conference which we hosted in Llanelli, one of our major towns.

There were representatives from 38 other councils and it is always interesting to see how others approach regeneration.

I have also met the Welsh Assembly minister for economic development, Andrew Davies. Regional government has created a distinctive programme for Wales and there is close dialogue with the Assembly.

There are weekly meetings with the chief executive, other directors and my own senior management team.

As a new director, I have been keen to meet with staff to share issues and I have introduced a 'coffee hour' where 10 staff chosen at random come and talk to me about just about anything to do with the job. The first couple were a bit tense as some still think meeting the director means there is a problem, but people are relaxed now.

I notice the director of resources has just introduced it too, so I can quote it as best practice.

The potential of this county is enormous and my job is to co-ordinate and lead the drive for prosperity. It always helps when there is strong political commitment and support from staff.

This morning, I am going to witness the demolition of the old Whitland creamery building, which is a milestone in the redevelopment of the area. It has been an eyesore since the business closed down some time ago, but we have investors looking to go there which is a real boost for local people.

This afternoon, I am meeting an inward investor who is coming here to look at our call centre in Ammanford.

This evening, I am giving a talk to a neighbouring council about our activities, and our successful Objective One programme.

Last year, I had the honour of being president of West Wales Chamber of Commerce, the first public sector president since its inception in 1847. This week, I attended a dinner as one of the board members. I am also economic development adviser to the Welsh Local Government Association, and the role of councils in regeneration is very topical right now.

I have always believed councils are well placed to lead the regeneration of their communities and their ability to adapt and change in response to changing priorities means their role will still be crucial.

As to the Clive Anderson thing? I was stopped by a pensioner in a supermarket who said she had seen me on TV and knew who I was. She then said: 'So what are you doing here, have you moved to Wales to escape the rat race, Mr Anderson?'

Ah well, maybe I will be famous one day and get to open fêtes in my retirement, but not for a while yet I hope.

Dave Gilbert

Director of regeneration, Carmarthenshire CC

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