You take a call late one evening from the Town Hall Solicitor in a Northern Inner City. A dispute is careering towards the Courts concerning an application by a City Centre Hotel for a change of use to provide accommodation to recently arrived refugees from Kabul.
There are a number of interests. The Hotel Owner has seen a Covid induced slump in bookings and welcomes the opportunity to re-invigorate his business with Afghan refugees looking to find a temporary home. The Council want to appear to be pro-active and play their part in the national effort to welcome the refugees but is anxious about local reactions.
The UK First party have made inroads in local elections with an anti-immigration agenda and are opposed to the change of use. The City Centre Retail Association is concerned that refugees walking around the Town Centre may discourage shoppers from making a post-Covid return.
At the same time an Alliance of Local Notables – the Round Table, the Rotary Club and Friends of the large NHS Hospital – are keen to show the City in its best light and to extend a welcome to the Refugees. There are others with a point of view – the local MP, the local branches of the main political parties and a local businessman with considerable local property investments.
You are pleased that legal proceedings have been stayed in order to give Mediation a chance. You, as Mediator, are in the driving seat, mindful that a combination of a sensitive topic + an aroused local community will make calls upon your skills. You make a note to make contact with the arriving Afghan refugees. You also wonder if your female gender might become an issue.
What to do? How to proceed? You are there to mediate but with whom? The list is formidable and you make your first move – an A List of key people + organisations and a B List of those with whom you would like to at least “touch base”.
EPISODE 2. MONDAY 13 SEPTEMBER 2021
THE MEDIATOR LISTENS