The Mediator’s meeting with the Residents was always going to be challenging. Should the meeting be with the Chair of the Residents Association [RA]? or with the Committee of the RA (6 members)? or with all the members of the RA numbering 142 people.
You do need to introduce yourself to the Chair – not simply as a courtesy to her position, but also as part of the listening process, and a face-to-face between you and her follows your initial phone call.
The meeting is helpful. The Chair knows the issues and the views For and Against. She is not on the front foot giving you her own views but more focused on the way forward. She does tell you that there is a majority in favour of the proposed development albeit the majority have reservations about the lorries carrying building materials and possible social issues arising out of the affordable housing aspect. At the same, she does let you know that feelings have run high amongst those opposed to the scheme. You sense she is war-weary and pleased that you are now in the firing line.
You do ask her views about how to proceed. She wants to keep it within the Committee of 6 whereas your instinct is to go, initially at least, for a meeting with all the residents to allay suspicions that decisions might be made “behind closed doors.
The meeting with the 142 takes place and the fur begins to fly almost from the off. Two men of advanced years jump in with strong words. You sense the members generally might be tired of listening to the two but you do notice that they are received with vigorous applause – even if the number of supporters does not match the volume of the applause.
You have two goals at the meeting – the first is to introduce yourself. Good manners. Secondly, you want to convey that you are a fair and safe pair of hands. Here, importantly, you do well. You do not seize the moment in a forceful way but more low key. You use the right words and the right speaking skills to gain the attention of the 142.
EPISODE 4. 14 MARCH 2022
MEETING THE DEVELOPER