An award winning way of moving beyond “No”!
Leeds GATE are delighted to win the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Change Champion award from the Lloyds Bank Foundation in relation to our ‘Negotiated Stopping’ work. We want to thank colleagues across Leeds City Council, West Yorkshire Police, local businesses, residents groups and communities, and our members of course for their part in this fantastic achievement!
UPDATE: At the Lloyds Bank Foundation Charity Achievement awards LeedsGATE were announced as United Kingdom Runner up, in addition to Regional Winner, in the Championing Change category! Thanks very much Lloyds and congratulations to all the excellent regional and national award winners.
This pragmatic approach to dealing with unauthorised encampments has again been recognised as positive and innovative, representing a significant improvement from previous cycles of eviction. We know that this work is important for communities. It is an important example of communities learning to live together well. Frankly, it is a relief that our work is being recognised and celebrated. But, most importantly, the practice of negotiation itself has once again been applauded, as it was earlier this year, when the London Assembly Housing Scrutiny Panel recommended the adoption of Negotiated Stopping across the UK capital.
We think that this is a model which works and has been proved to do so in Leeds over the past year. Its adoption here has saved the Council, and therefore local council tax payers, significant sums of money; limited disruption for the settled community; and, most importantly for us, ensured better and more secure accommodation for our members. It is our ongoing goal to see these benefits delivered elsewhere across the country and this award helps draw attention to the value of Negotiated Stopping. We have arranged a conference in February next year in London to help further spread the word and provide more details about how the system works.
Our frustration generally with the planning system is that it is adversarial, with the default position to most proposed new accommodation, whether Gypsy Traveller or otherwise, being no. This is already being demonstrated as Leeds City Council undertakes a consultation on its Local Development Plan. Noticeably it isn’t just the proposed Gypsy and Traveller sites which seem to be meeting some opposition but settled housing developments as well. There is sadly no room for nuance, where opponents simply say ‘no’, instead of ‘why not?’ or, perhaps even more helpfully, how can we overcome the ‘why not?’. Is objecting effective? Does shouting ‘NO’ loudest work effectively? If so, is that fair?
That for us is the appeal to Negotiated Stopping. Whilst in some way distinct from new developments, the principles involved are useful ones which we hope could be applied to other aspects of land use. Most importantly, Negotiated Stopping is pragmatic and realistic; it recognises that challenges won’t simply go away however much some Councils or residents wish they would. Simply moving a camp on won’t deal with the need for those people to find somewhere to stop; precisely why a camp will pop up again down the road. Equally, simply saying no to a housing development will not address the ongoing need; precisely why new applications keep coming.
What is needed are sensible questions such as ‘how can we deal with problem x?’ and ‘why is x proving so difficult?’ This is exactly how Negotiated Stopping operates. Instead of asking people to just oppose if they don’t like the idea of something it asks questions which seek to make progress. Given the lack of progress across the country in addressing unauthorised encampments, it is little wonder that approaching the issue differently has proved successful. Also crucial is that negotiated stopping is collaborative, based upon dialogue between the various parties involved, including the Council, local residents and Gypsy and Traveller community.
We have proved that this approach works, happily recognised by this award, and we would urge all of those interested to attend our conference early next year. In case you missed it the first time, for more details and to sign up click here.