Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones:-
In the much anticipated (by some) final episode of the HBO series (which received mixed reviews) Bran (now titled “the Broken”) doesn’t want to be king and appoints a reluctant Tyrion as his Hand.
You don’t need to have read any of the books or seen the series to recognise that in this situation it feels like everybody loses (except HBO) and that is the antithesis of what mediation aims for, both parties unhappy with the outcome.
Now I’m not going to pretend that parties walk out of every mediation delighted, they rarely dance off into the sunset, you wouldn’t be talking to us at Northwest Mediation if everything in the (high) garden was rosy but you do walk out with a more positive result than fighting all the way to the bitter end at court (or King’s Landing) where inevitably there is a winner, a loser and often a feeling that no-one quite got what they wanted (much like fans of Game of Thrones in that regard).
The win-win is what we at Northwest Mediation are aiming for, and it’s achieved by helping the parties realise what they need, not necessarily what they thought they wanted, or what their pleaded case says they want.
So perhaps Tyrion and Bran’s outcomes aren’t wholly dissimilar to a mediated result they both need some strong people to govern the seven kingdoms (or six if you discount Sansa’s kingdom) and they have the best chance of succeeding, and sometimes it takes a mediator to help parties see that there is another option, not often as unexpected as a three eyed crow taking a throne, but often out of the “left field” and only through talking and listening in mediation do the parties find it.
Parties looking to engage in mediation this week in the news include the Kern County Firefighters Union (who would easily have extinguished dragon fire if Kern County were set upon) over in Bakersfield California who are heading to mediation with county officials over funding shortfalls.
There currently exists a black hole of $9 million in the funding of the fire service.
Director of countywide communications Megan Person said "We’ve reached the point as a county where we can’t put band aids over the problem anymore…The general fund departments have had to take major cuts. Almost all departments have had to take a cut. During that same amount of time the fire department has not had to take any cuts in their budget. Their budget has remained constant"
President of Kern County Firefighters Association, David Nelson, responded “I’m actually excited just due to the fact that we can get this matter heard before a third party that’s going to allow all the ambiguity to go out the window and we can now get down to business"
"Everybody in your public safety sectors are departing and going to other areas that they have higher pay and compensation so those costs are going to continue to rise for the county if the board doesn’t come to the table and find ways to entice people to stay and work here in the county…This is a small representation of people that will be leaving the fire department if the county continues down the path with negotiations the way that they. So it is going to lead to an increase in costs to the taxpayers and it is going to lead to a very inexperienced department providing our communities the services they need"
Mediation talks are expected to start within the next 4 weeks but could go on for several months, however by taking the step to engage in mediation the parties are acknowledging the need to find a mutually non-destructive way forward.
Closer to home the Valley Gardens Forum, including representatives from local businesses, residents, tourism and entertainment venues met yesterday to discuss how to move forward with their dispute with the council over a major traffic project involving the Victoria Gardens.
The forum had issued proceedings against the council which has now resulted in the council agreeing to mediation.
Daniel Nathan for the forum said “It is unfortunate it took the threat of legal action to elicit positive engagement from the council…The purpose of mediation is not about what went before but to think about what is in front of us... It wasn’t ideal how this was rushed…It’s never too late. Things are not set in stone. We need to look at the decisions taken and if they were taken with adequate information.”
Spiegeltent’s Adrian Bristow (also part of the Forum) added “To me it’s perfectly simple. If you’re planning an area, you talk to all the relevant sectors, find out their interests and requirement and come up with their issues and discuss it in a forum before you discuss preferred plans…What has gone so very wrong is this transport department has unilaterally come up with their preferred option, which no one I know prefers.”
Pete West, Green councillor had asked for the reintroduction of member/stakeholder working group but the forum want a halt to development while they engage in mediation, no doubt with an eye to the fact that if the council continues to build it makes it all the more expensive to change what’s done.
Lee Wares, conservative councillor, a co-signatory to a request for a pause in development said “For months before this group came together we’ve been asking for this to be paused. Unless there is a change in direction in administration, who are the ones who tell Geoff Raw [chief executive] and Nick Hibberd [executive director for economy, environment and culture] what to do...Unless there’s a change in that, perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself and the petition will get kicked out as well.” That petition has over 1000 signatures and had a greater response than the council’s own consultation on the project.
The council has responded to comments by pointing out “The council’s Environment Transport and Sustainability Committee took the decision in October 2018 to consult the public on its preferred option for phase 3 of the Valley Gardens scheme…
In February 2019 the committee approved the final preliminary design which was based on the preferred option… Councillors carefully considered and took into account the results of the public consultation when making the decision and there will be further public consultation and stakeholder engagement in relation to the detailed design…Valley Gardens phase 3 is funded primarily by the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership which is providing £6 million of Local Growth Fund money"
"The Valley Gardens project aims to improve the environment, open space and travel experience for people using the green spaces, roads and pavements from St Peter’s Church to the Palace Pier…When complete the project will improve road safety and ease of movement through the area, as well as create an exciting and attractive destination for visitors to spend time in with new landscaping, planting and public squares.”
Stepping into mediation is not a guarantee of success but it does guarantee all views will be heard and with a collaborative approach the parties should find a road map that allows them to move forward in way with which everyone can live.
The open nature of discussions in mediation whilst remaining confidential allows all sides to engage fully in the process and understand the needs of all involved allowing parties to reach a conclusion which both sides can live with and move on.
There are so many situations which could have been resolved by early intervention of mediation it continues to surprise me the lengths the public (and some lawyers) will go to avoid referral.
Whether you need a mediator to help out with a construction matter in the Northwest, or council’s plans in Cheshire, a civil mediator in London, a commercial mediator in Manchester, a dispute resolution for your family in Liverpool, a neighbourhood mediation in Stockport, then our mediators at Northwest Mediation can help.
Mediation is cheaper, quicker and less stressful than running any case to court, it can help with any dispute whether it's an employment issue or the sale at an under value of a property, a fight with a neighbour, family issues, commercial mediation or inheritance , wills and probate arguments contact Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at email@example.com
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