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Negotiated Stopping - How is it going?

Helen Jones's picture
By Helen Jones |  October 1, 2012 |

You'll remember our excitement a couple of months ago at the beginning of the negotiated stopping trial in Leeds? You might be wondering how things are going?  So here's a quick update.

The word is positive so far. The families on the pilot site have spoken of enjoying the opportunity to 'act like a community' and having access to services.  Although the current location is not ideal, the families involved would certainly be keen to continue with trialing the negotiated stopping agreements. We understand there have been a small number of 'management issues' for the local authority to deal with, but so far nobody is freaking out! An evaluation into the pilot will no doubt be carried out and we look forward to hearing how the stopping agreement has worked, or not, from the local authority perspective. But the current agreements are expiring now so the big question is "What next?"



The council agreed with local businesses that the camp, even if successful, would be moved on when the current negotiated agreements expire. Quite rightly if they made an agreement, they should stick to it. And the families involved have known all along that the Bath Road location was not ideal and time limited. So the alternatives are a) a legal eviction according to the old model where the families are simply shifted and must decide for themselves where to move to. Option b) would be a 'managed move' from this location where the families agree to move to another location designated by the council. Option b) is by far the best and cheapest option but it requires pre mediation by the authority and stakeholders to the new location (local residents, businesses and, crucially, elected members and neighbourhood policing teams). Option c) is the one most likely to happen. In this scenario the families are obliged to move but without a direction of anywhere to go. They will have to identify somewhere for themselves, and then the council will decide whether the new location is suitable for a negotiated stopping agreement to be used. This option has an element of randomness which may not lead to negotiated stopping potential and in the case of families feeling unable to identify a potential location, may lead them to chose not to move from the current location without an eviction order.

Much as we wish a 'managed move' was well rehearsed and normal practice, it is only common sense after all, we have to recognise that what Leeds City Council are trying is ground breaking. I very much hope that commentators and others recognise it is no use to be sniping at the sidelines, as some are still inclined to do, unless there are alternatives that work.  We can only hope that enough local stakeholders are sick of the damaging merry-go-round of eviction, disenfranchisement, and costs that was previous practice, to support the authority wholeheartedly.  If we can succeed in continuing to negotiate and compromise, the rewards both here in Leeds, and indeed across the country, are potentially very great.

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