THE MEDIATOR LISTENS
A planning application with political overtones. Prominent local interests have become involved. Battle lines are being drawn + you, Mrs Harmison, (an experienced Community Mediator) have been appointed to mediate a settlement. Can it be achieved?
You do your homework – you consider change of use issues; city centre issues (incl tourism); local politics; local interest groups + Government/Local Government exchanges on placement of Afghanistan refugees. You also access social media + locally focused sites in particular. You remind yourself to understand local agendas whilst focusing on the issue of accommodation for arriving Afghan refugees – the specific issue.
The Hotel Owner is a long-standing family business. Occupation rates are low due to Covid + the refugees would do much to reverse a slump. The UK First party are anti-immigrant and quite inflexible. Their slogan – “No Refugees Here” – is used to oppose any change of use and to boost their local right wing profile. The short-staffed NHS Hospital views the refugees as potential employees + approves of the proposed change of use. The local MP – Labour – has a small majority + knows this controversial issue could damage his hopes of re-election.
Two groups of particular interest are the Shopkeepers Alliance and the Refugees themselves. The Alliance have mixed views; some, mindful of post Brexit shortages and growing job vacancies, believe that the refugees will be keen to work – either in the City Centre supermarkets or on local farms picking fruit. Others view the refugees with prejudice and want to keep them to the perimeter of the City, not the Centre.
By chance you encounter the Local Businessman – an independent “rags to riches” character, who loves his home City, sponsors the local football team who play in League 2 and has accumulated substantial property interests. Finally, you arrange to meet with the spokespeople for the Refugees – your gender threatens the meeting but the Town Clerk intervenes + saves the day.
EPISODE 3 – 14 SEPTEMBER 2021
TWO KEY MEETINGS TAKE PLACE