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Showing posts with label Labour MPs in court. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Labour MPs in court. Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

The Margaret Jaconelli Case – an injustice in the making

Recent information received on Margaret Jaconelli’s attempts to get a fair price and compensation for her home, a Glasgow granny facing compulsory purchase to acquire land for the Commonwealth Games development, leads me to believe that there is a major injustice in the making here, and that a relentless, pitiless legal juggernaut is in the process of rolling over this Glasgow grandmother and her husband.

Her case has, in the main, been presented in unsympathetic and in some cases inaccurate terms by a Scottish press too lazy to find the real story underlying the superficial, Daily Mail-type headlines that have unfairly portrayed her as greedy and unreasonable. There is greed and unreasonableness at work here, but it is not coming from Margaret Jaconelli but from those seeking to force her into accepting major disruption to her life on manifestly inequitable terms.

I intend to find out more, and so should any journalist worth their salt - and any local politician. It will be sad indeed if the justifiable pride of Glasgow and Scottish politicians in hosting the games is marred by an injustice.

Remember this, when you consider the facts as previously presented, some of which are appear to have been inaccurate - Margaret Jaconelli is not refusing to move, not trying to halt the progress of the work; she is trying to get a fair, negotiated price for her home of many years and for the stress and disruption she and her family have been put through by this relentless and implacable legal and commercial juggernaut.

Some individuals and some firms will make very big money indeed from this work, but even at her most ambitious price, which was simply an opening bid, Margaret Jaconelli will not.

Given the record of British politicians – with the honourable exception of the SNP – in exploiting property, property loopholes and expenses, and with some Scottish Labour politicians facing criminal prosecution for their activities, it behoves the honest politicians of Glasgow and Scotland to at least investigate this woman’s case more closely, and ideally champion it.

EXTRACT FROM 5th October 2010 BLOG


Let me nail my colours to the mast – I believe that if a development – international golf and hotel complex or Commonwealth games facilities are manifestly in the wider public interest, some people may have to lose their homes, property and land if they stand in the way of that, providing there has been full consultation and all relevant environmental, social, economic and personal arguments have been properly heard and adjudicated on.

If it happened to me, I would be sad, but I would recognise its inevitability and focus on getting the best price.

The objectors in Aberdeen on environmental grounds have been heard, and they have lost the argument. If such arguments had been accepted throughout the centuries, we would have no cities, no roads, no industry and no modern infrastructure in Scotland.

God knows, we are not short of wild unspoiled places, vibrant with animals, fish game and species in abundance, much of it regrettably in the grip of private landowners. I have no wish to turn Scotland into a concreted-over theme park, but neither do I want to see thousands of families condemned to unemployment and penury because of lack of work.

Those who are refusing to sell their homes are in another category entirely. I sympathise with them and I want them to get a price that reflects the hardship and emotional upheaval that the loss of their homes will visit on them, but I do not support their right to veto a major project by refusing outright to sell. So I have little sympathy for the Aberdeen protesters.

But I do stand up for Margaret Jaconelli, the Glasgow grandmother who has fought to get her idea of a fair price for over a decade for her two-bedroom flat in Dalmarnock. Unlike the Aberdeen protesters, who appear to have elicited public sympathy by virtue of the Scope-Severity Paradox (see above), she is well on her way to being demonised, together with her lawyer, for asking £300,000 for the land the Games authority wants to acquire and £60,000 for the inconvenience of being evicted.

Glasgow City Council plans to evict her for refusing to accept the £30,000 figure assessed by the District Valuer, a UK government agency under the compulsory purchase order.

When I was teaching negotiating skills in the early 1990s to managers and businesses of all kinds, I was introduced by Professor Gavin Kennedy, an international expert and best-selling author on negotiation, to the concept of ransom strips in property dealing, i.e. often small piece of land, privately owned, that stood in the way of a large, multi-million development. I used one of Gavin’s cases when I worked for him as director of Negotiate Ltd. to show how both ends of such a negotiation worked, the clear objective of the seller being to maximise the sale price and the buyer to minimise it.

No one, then or now, ever suggested that there was something immoral in recognising that the value of the land was determined, not by comparison with similar plots that were not the object of development, but by the particular circumstances of them being positional goods in the development context.

Governments don’t like such negotiating clout and good fortune to be in the hands of small property and landowners, however, hence the compulsory purchase legislation. While the UK government is totally reconciled to paying enormously inflated prices for armaments, defence contract, consultancy and IT projects based on market circumstances and leverage, they don’t like the idea of a Glesca granny trying to exploit her once in a lifetime opportunity.

Well, I do – go for it, Granny Margaret (she’s 23 years younger than me!) – get the best deal you can.

Do I think £300,000 for the land and £60,000 for the inconvenience excessive? Well, it’s an opening bid, and Margaret and her lawyer would, I’m sure, settle for a smaller amount in negotiation if she and her lawyer are permitted to bargain. But of course, they won’t be – the steamroller of local government and UK law will roll over them, in a city where municipal corruption has been endemic for generations, where dirty land and property deals have been the order of the day and where corrupt council officials who would have been sacked in any just society have been quietly retired with massive settlements and pensions over the decades.

But you’ve lost nothing by trying, Granny Margaret, and if there is any justice, you’ll still get the price offered, a new home, and with luck, tell your story to the tabloids and media and make a few bob.

Meanwhile, if there is a petition to protect you, I’ll sign it most willingly. But I won’t support your Aberdeen counterparts in their efforts to stay put.