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.

Bob Bracegirdle
Tuesday 16th February 2016 at 11:24 pm
Agreed. We did a lot better than this negotiating work in Leicestershire C.C. when I was there.