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November 2, 2023

A day in the life: Claud Latini

There’d be only a smattering of city streets that Claud Latini hasn’t had a hand in improving in almost 20 years with City of Adelaide.

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  • This article was produced in collaboration with the City of Adelaide.
  • Pictures: Liam Jenkins

Blowing the rubbish off the city footpaths in the early morning, Claud had an eye to what goes on while most of Adelaide was asleep.

“We’d start at four o’clock. If you did an early Saturday morning, you’d see a few interesting things… but nothing too exciting,” he says, downplaying the sometimes-amusing displays of machismo provoked by a bellyful of beer.


Want to know about the city’s current infrastructure projects ? Find them here.

The remarkable cleanliness of our city is something Adelaideans largely take for granted. That is, until they visit other places and the contrast becomes obvious. Having worked on the cleansing team himself, and knowing the current crew, Claud speaks to the pride taken in the work.

“They make sure that it’s spick and span for the first people who open their eyes up in the morning and walk through the streets. Very rarely do you see any rubbish.”

He started at City of Adelaide 18 years ago, first in cleansing and after six months moving to the civil construction crews, lured by the stability of a full-time position.

“One of the London Road Depot’s managers from the civil construction teams was looking for someone with a truck licence, so I put my hand up,” Claud recalls. “I prepared my resume and went to see him the following day. And he said to me, ‘what are you doing here?’.” Long story short – Claud had been a manager at public transport provider TransAdelaide but was looking to swap an office for the great outdoors.

He left the meeting with a path into civil construction. Later, as a construction coordinator, he ran his own crew for a decade as they replaced the curbs and water tables (aka gutters) and upgraded footpaths. Walk or drive down King William or Currie Street, or any other thoroughfare in the city, and you’re a beneficiary of this unsung work. Less mentioned, but key ingredients of liveable cities are how they encourage their citizens to take active transport – to walk and engage with the community at street level.

Nowadays, he’s off the tools and is one of two construction supervisors, together with Ian McLeod. A lot of his day is problem solving and liaising with the Council’s contractors.

“The project managers don’t get a lot of time to get out to the sites, so Ian and myself go out and we’re their eyes and ears,” he says. “We make sure safety is intact and the work’s getting done to standard and on time and on budget.”

Sometimes there’s a transfer of hands on specialist knowledge. “There may be contractors who’ve never built things the way we’ve built them in the City of Adelaide. So, Ian and myself actually have to show them how to do it. We enjoy doing that. We’re not here just to tell you what you’ve done wrong – we’re also here to help you.”

In the early days of this role, he’d document each site’s daily progress in a paper diary. That site diary has since gone digital and its use is mutually beneficial when understanding project progress.

“When I go onsite, I take photos of work the contractors have done. I’ll add those to the site diary with comments. What was the weather like that day? If it was raining, obviously, they wouldn’t be able to do too much and they’ve lost an 8-hour day.

“That information gets logged, so when we come together at the end of the project and they say, ‘Oh, we lost this many days’, we can go back and check. Yes, it did rain on this many days, so they have reason to be late on their project.”

Have tools, will travel. A little side project of Claud’s…

… and another.

His recipe for success is having a great contractor and project manager. “The three of us have to work collectively.” However, there are occasions when he steps back a little, as in the case of the Place of Reflection adjacent Tandanya.

“There wasn’t much I could contribute to that except to make sure their safety was intact every day – it’s a really nice piece of artwork,” he says of the simple, yet powerful memorial to the Stolen Generations.

Among his favourite projects is Narnungga/Gladys Elphick Park, stretching from West Terrace to Port Road, which has brought renewed activity to the precinct since its completion in 2018.

“We greened it all up, added amenities, put new paths through. It was a space that probably wasn’t being utilised enough. Now, we’ve got an area where it’s green, people go running, skating, they ride bikes through.”

City Skate at the eastern boundary of Narnungga is another top pick of his, not only because “the contractor was great to work with”, but also for the sense of community it brings to the area.

He was there to see the young skateboarding girls, Olympic hopefuls for the sport, carving it up at the facility’s official opening. Not that it could encourage him to give it a whirl; as he says, “I’m 56 years old and I like my bones the way they are”.

Currently, he’s supervising construction on the Adelaide Town Hall conservation project. The staged works will deal with the significant cracking, delamination of render and damage to stonework that has seen parts of the historic façade come loose and, in some areas, fall off. The aim is to restore, re-render and repoint the stonework without compromising the cultural significance of the building.

He’s also supervising the work on Jeffcott Street, North Adelaide, between Montefiore Hill and Wellington Square where the stormwater pipes are being redone. The heritage bluestone and gutters need to be carefully removed and replaced, the stone secured in fresh concrete for at least another lifetime or two. The intent is that it remains as ‘original’ as possible.

“The majority of our work is capital works and maintenance. We have an asset team that inspect our assets and see how old they are and how they’re travelling. And obviously, if they reach the end of their lifespan, we’ll fix them up.”

Most days, he starts at six and finishes at two. For the upgrade to Francis Street off Rundle Mall, where there’s stormwater and resurfacing work underway, the timing is more akin to his early days with the Council.

“I’ve been starting at 3.30 in the morning because the contractors have been doing night shift. So, I come in early and catch up with them before they finish for the day. I spend a couple of hours with them and we go over everything together before they leave.”

As a kid, Claud wanted to be a cabinetmaker.

“My auntie bought me a tool set in a wooden case. I had a saw and a ruler and a hammer and all those sorts of tools. This gentleman who lived across the road from us was always making stuff. He used to give me bits of wood and I would knock things up. I made a little table and little chairs. I had this thing for making things out of wood.”

There’s still a bit of woodwork going on. At his home, there’s an aquarium cabinet, a toy box for his son like the wagon chests in Western movies, cupboards in the garage. And he’s knocked up gates and barn doors for people.

Maybe this feeds into him seeming somewhat self-effacing when talking about his current position.

“When you’re building things yourself, that’s when you’re really hands on.

“Now, I contribute verbally, not physically.”

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