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December 9th 2011

Moderating Cologne meetings for Palestine / Israel cooperation

I have just returned from three stretching days’ work in a workshop and conference in Cologne (28th November to 1st December) with 15 Palestinian and 15 Israeli Mayors, where I moderated the discussions (using every technique known to me from the meeting-management handbook!) to negotiate agreement on practical steps for cooperation between them. Okay, it was not exactly negotiating the Oslo Peace Accords, but at times we felt pretty close to how the diplomats must have felt at the time! Continue Reading

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July 8th 2011

Lords back Ai Director’s critique on Localism Bill

On 28th June, Lords from all political sides joined together to criticize the government’s proposals in Part 2 of the Localism Bill, quoting Ai Director Jeremy Smith’s criticism and critique first made in February 2011, in an article in Municipal Journal, “Fog over Parliament” .

Under the government’s proposals, ministers would decide whether and how much to require local authorities to pay to central government, in the event of a fine from the European Court of Justice, which the minister decides they are responsible for.  In his article, Jeremy had explained (a) how the government had misunderstood the relevant EU Treaty provisions, and (b) in particular, how the proposed clawback proposals were in breach of the principles of natural justice, with ministers being at once prosecutor, judge and co-defendant! Continue Reading

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