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TREADING WATER

TREADING WATER

Week 5 update.
First the good news. We reached agreement with the council on the first set of Tribunal Orders relating to the formal Equal Value process in the tribunal. There was no major fight and we were able to resolve matters without even having to go to tribunal. This was an improvement on the situation in September.
As I have pointed out before the equal value process is very slow and will take at least until 2020 to get the first results from an independent expert. But this step is essential if No Deal happens. It all sounds very boring but these steps are very important and will involve a lot of work from the whole Claimant Team.
More on this as and when it becomes necessary.
We regret to say that there hasn’t been any significant progress this week in the negotiations. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I genuinely think the council still didn’t understand the size of the problem they have created until last week. Because of the outstanding work of Karl Bromley (Happy Birthday by the way) and the methodology group, the council officers have finally realised that the numbers we gave them months ago were real.
I don’t think that the senior officers wanted to believe it and hoped that we were wrong but now the penny has dropped. As a result the council asked for more time to “number crunch” and also to seek political approval on the problem, as they see it. This has taken far longer than they expected and resulted in all meetings this week being postponed. Obviously we were not happy with this but we have been reassured that giving them this extra time is more likely to enable agreement being reached. We are waiting to see what happens next week.
Yet again its a “I told you so “ moment. I told them 12 months ago that negotiations would take time, even when both sides were committed to resolving things. Wasting 10 months and then hoping to do the work in 6 weeks was always “ambitious” shall we say. And so it has proved.
So although this looks like a set back the Claimant team remains positive that a deal CAN be done.
However, I think the council needs to admit that it is going to take longer than it thought and that we need more time. Not only do we need to resolve the core issues of the formula which we can recommend, but in addition there are masses of admin and legal details that need to be dealt with, not only going back but looking forward to 2021 and beyond.
Personally,I hope the council will just bite the bullet and acknowledge this. I wouldn’t criticise them if they did. In fact I’d praise them for being mature. I know that it might look like a broken promise and lots of you will demand a strike again but I think this would be a positive gesture of goodwill.
The alternative is much worse. The council panics and does what we feared they would do which was to present us with a crap “offer” which we were bound to turn down and end up with no deal and masses of acrimony.
Much better for all to accept the challenge was bigger than we thought. To regroup and agree a new achievable timetable. Just like Brexit the council set a date too quickly and now we need an Article 50 Extension. Better that than no deal!
In the meantime we resume next week and remain optimistic of progress.
One Final plea - don’t reply to this with STRIKE! STRIKE!. It isn’t going to happen unless and until negotiations collapse and we are nowhere near that point yet.
Stefan Cross