Barlow's Beef: How Cheshire East negotiates on your behalf


How good are your negotiating skills? Do you just accept any price or do you haggle?
Years ago I worked as a sales rep calling on small businesses. I did quite well and as a reward for my efforts I was promoted to Key Account Sales. My employer sent me on an intensive negotiating course before turning me loose on our major league customers.

These clients were tough negotiators. I was involved in the preparation of every quote and was expected to show a profit.

"Don't pitch too high," my boss told me. "Or these buyers will consider you a naive amateur."

"Make sure your prices are in line with the market then stand your ground. Do not be intimidated by bluster and threats. Give yourself five percent negotiating room and don't be afraid to walk away."

That advice stood me in good stead. I learned not to cave in no matter how much pressure these big companies applied. As I discovered a lot of it turned out to be bluff. They just wanted to push me as far as they could.

So you may be interested to know how your council performs when negotiating deals on your behalf.

Barratt Homes plan to build 150 homes on a large brown field site near the centre of Macclesfield (stick with me on this it is relevant).

Cheshire East insisted that 50 affordable homes must be included in the plan, plus 6,000sq metres of open space and a contribution of £475,000 for local schools.

Of course, Barratt Homes did what you would expect any developer to do claiming these conditions were quite unreasonable. (Given the government case for mass house building is the desperate shortage of affordable homes CEC's proposal appeared quite fair.)

Negotiations begun and finally concluded with a commitment to 15 affordable homes (a reduction of 70 percent): 1000 sq metres of open space (quite what residents will do with a 25m by 40m rectangle of 'open space' is anyone's guess) AND a contribution to local schools of £200,000 (a reduction of 58 per cent).

Barratt Homes must be struggling to contain their hysteria. This is NOT negotiation... it's capitulation.

Presumably, CEC planners know what they are doing. They must know the market value of this project and pitched their proposals accordingly. Now either they are clueless or they are the worst negotiators on the planet.

A concession of 70 per cent is not negotiation... it's humiliation and Cheshire East should hang their head in shame.

That, my friends, is what you can expect when your council 'negotiates' on your behalf.

God help us.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of

Barlow's Beef, Vic Barlow


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 17th February 2016 at 1:10 am
Vic, if your negotiations were poor then your company would go bust and you'd be out of a job.

But when CE negotiate badly they just put up the rates by 3.75% to compensate.

Until there is a moral hazard for public sector incompetence, then their poor performance is almost inevitable.
Manuel Golding
Wednesday 17th February 2016 at 2:44 pm
You are so spot-on yet again, Vic.

It is rumoured that CEC's very brightest "negotiators" all attend the Dave Cameron's " La Premier école de négociation" and all came away with discredits (honours, of course).
Your story is a shocker but of no real surprise.
Do we not have the very same scenario being played at at Royal London - if you, CEC, do not give us what we demand, we up sticks and go elsewhere. This is when CE should have walked away and waited for the phone call from RL - it would have come. The result is that our negotiators, those with honours of course, have succumbed totally to the threat - we now have RL demanding a 5 hectare new build office complex, plus a hotel of unknown area, and something like 100 homes scattered around the main campus with 75 on its land west of Alderley Rd. ALL ON GREEN BELT. To make the commercial development "retro fit", CEC has chosen to completely ignore, expunge from view, the 15 hectare Waters site & the 0.6 hectares commercial development at the former Brybor Kennels, both on Altrincham Road.
Cheshire East's Local Plan update is calling for an increase in commercial build from 8 to 10 hectares. The Waters & Brybor sites equate to 15.6 hectares, well over 50% of that required in the Local Plan.
Therefore we do not require a further 5 ha at RL plus the other site being promoted in the Local Plan,the so called Wilmslow Business Centre, at 6.3 ha. Both these in Green Belt.
If the council in its (was going to say "wisdom" but have realised that is the one ingredient absent in CE) deliberations (one-party dictact) approves the two above, will ensure that Wilmslow will have at least 26.9 ha for commercial development (plus the hotel), way beyond the 10 ha in the plan.
So, what is going on at CE?
Voters, residents, need to ask their/our Conservative councillors, at both Sandbach & Wilmslow TC just where they stand on this land grab and what are they going to do to fight our corner?
RoW's Dean Row CE councillor, Toni Fox, and WT councillor David Jefferay, are lone voices battling on their own on behalf of the town.