The truth behind the headlines

first_imgIna Personnel Today exclusive, Mike Broad talks to the man in the hot seat atCorus, Allan Johnston. The personnel director at the steel giant explains thebackground to the job cuts at an emotionally charged timeWhensteel giant Corus announced 6,050 job losses on 1 February, the ensuing clamourby politicians and the media drowned out much of the company’s explanation andnew priorities.Agreat deal was made of the affected workforce finding out about theredundancies on the same day as the media. But little was known about thesophisticated internal communication strategy, implemented by the company’s HRteam, which successfully informed most of the employees – through a combinationof face-to-face meetings, e-mails and freephone information – before the mediadid. Also,little has been made of the fact that the redundancies are proposals and arenot set in stone. Corus claims to be taking the 90-day consultation period withstaff and unions seriously. “Wewere accused of not consulting, and of not giving people the opportunity torespond. We were even accused of being arrogant,” said Allan Johnston,personnel director of Corus. “But what we have put to the unions is a set ofproposals.”Thesteel manufacturer offered the unions a two-week period following theannouncement to consult with members before the 90-day consultation periodstarted. Under UK law, companies are only obliged to offer the 90-day periodafter the announcement of mass redundancies. Johnstonsaid, “It is my intention to make it obvious [to the unions] that if what theyhave to say to us is sensible then it will be considered in all seriousness.” Therehas only been one formal proposal so far, which involved the unions buyingCorus’ large plant in Llanwern, South Wales. UnderCorus’ proposals basic steel making will cease at the plant with the loss ofmore than 1,300 jobs. But, according to Johnston, the unions’ proposal wasnot  feasible. “The competitive positionof the company would be undermined,” he explained. Othersolutions are being developed, including a plan for cutting the hours ofthreatened employees to protect their jobs.Corushas two sets of priorities during the consultation period. Johnston said, “Thefirst set is to get to a position where we’ve taken into account people’salternatives and come to a final view of the configuration. Once that is done,we move on to how we deal with the people-consequences of the restructuring.”The“people consequences” will be tackled through a combination of counselling andretraining that the company is currently developing. It will also be workingwith local agencies and employers to create jobs. Johnston is also chairman ofUK Steel Enterprise, the job creation arm of the Corus, which has been providedwith an additional £10m to spend in the affected areas. Thecompany has, for example, already started discussions with Ford which intendsto invest £220m and create 600 jobs at its Bridgend plant in Wales. Corus hasalso launched a pioneering deal with the AEEU union and EXi Telecoms to createhundreds  of  jobs for redundant steel workers in the telecoms industry.Thecompany’s planned strategy should cut £180m a year from operating costs. It isthought the company made an operating loss of £350m last year on its UK steelproduction, which the company has blamed on reduced domestic demand, hightransportation costs and the strength of the pound. The City reacted favourablyto the plans with the group’s shares increasing by 10 per cent the followingday.Johnstonsaid, “If you want to sell steel in Europe then you sell it in deutschmarks.Four years ago, you could sell a tonne of steel for 500DM which was about £220.If you sell the same tonne of steel at the same price today you would receive£147.” Johnstonbelieves staff were “generally happy” with the efforts the company made toinform them of the restructuring. He said, “We were determined that the peoplewho should find out first what was going to happen were the people mostaffected.“Obviouslyonce announced the proposals were big news and were on the news wires withinone minute, but not before consultative meetings had begun in every plantaffected.”Thecompany was vilified for not informing the Government of the decision, butJohnston explained that this was to prevent leaks. Only 30 staff at Corus knew.Hesaid, “We trust the politicians, but at every meeting there are always half adozen civil servants around. In our experience, there is a danger that they goback to their departments, start to discuss their response and the news getsout.”Internalcommunication is only a small part of Johnston’s role. He is one of sevenexecutive committee members who developed the plan, and was integral to thedecision-making process. He said, “I’ve got a responsibility for HR but it isnot compartmentalised. I was fundamentally involved in the choice of theoptions.“Ina situation like this, where a major restructuring is taking place, there areplenty of options and there could have been a great many different outcomes tothe deliberations. One of my roles has been to ensure that the right decisionwas taken when it came to the chosen option.” WhileJohnston believes the 90-day consultation period will allow the proposals to befine-tuned, he welcomes Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers’ decision toreview the laws requiring consultation “in good time”. Hesaid, “We have to be careful – we don’t want one package for every situation.Neither is it right that UK consultation is crap and European consultation isgood.”Unlessrestructuring has significant national implications, such as in Corus’ currentsituation, Johnston would prefer consultation at a local level. “I’d like tosee consultation take place where it has most effect – which is generally inthe workplace. If you are someone who works in Port Talbot or Scunthorpe whatyou really want to know is, ‘What the hell is going on in my plant?’“Weare certainly more comfortable having works council meetings at plant levelrather than at national level. Whether we then need to consult at a nationallevel is highly questionable.”Hebelieves that if the EU directive on information and consultation did becomelaw next year, forcing employers to talk to the workforce before major changeswere announced, then employers and unions would have to mature in theirrelationship. Johnstonsaid, “We’d have to get into a situation where the trade unions and ourselvesare able to talk a lot more in confidence than we currently do. If we had goneinto this particular announcement with very significant prior consultation withsenior trade unionists they would have been in a totally impossible position.“Don’tforget our predecessor, British Steel, was one of the few companies in the UKto have employee directors. They sat on the board as we agreed to close theirplants – it was almost an impossible position for those people to findthemselves in.” Lastweek staff at Vauxhall’s Luton plant voted for strike action following theDecember announcement that 2,000 workers would be made redundant. ButJohnston is confident that Corus will not be crippled by industrial action. Hesaid, “We will still have 20,000 people in the industry in dozens of sitesaround the UK if all the restructuring goes through as we envisage. “Ibelieve people will be very sympathetic to those affected but will get on withwhat they need to  at their own works.” Asthe consultation period develops, the HR team will be focusing on theoutplacement of staff and will look to rebuild lost confidence. He said,“Negative publicity is inevitable – you don’t expect laurel wreaths for puttingout this sort of information. What we need to do now, in the middle of anemotional period, is a really professional job and look after the people asbest we can.”Corus:the knock-on effects–Corus’ restructuring will result in the reduction of 3 million tonnes of ironand steelmaking capacity in the UK. The plan includes making 6,050 staffredundant.–Sites that will be closed include Ebbw Vale and Bryngwyn, with the loss of 780and 127 jobs respectively. Plants that will be reduced in size includeLlanwern, Shotton and Teeside, with the loss of 1,340, 319 and 234 jobs. –If the proposals still represent the company’s strategy following the 90-dayconsultation period then the redundancies will occur between 2001 to 2003,although Corus’ personnel director Allan Johnston claimed that all but a fewhundred job losses would occur this year. –The company’s UK manning levels will be 22,000 after the restructuring.–The company estimates that the measures will save it £180m a year. Previous Article Next Article The truth behind the headlinesOn 20 Feb 2001 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Resource Guide: vision

first_imgResource Guide: visionOn 1 Sep 2001 in Personnel Today This month’s resource guideCollege of Optometrists www.college-optometrists.org42 Craven Street London WC2N Tel: 020 7839 6000 Site of the professional, scientific and examining body for optometry in theUK. It includes news and information, eye care advice, details of academic andpractice-based journals, CET courses and professional guidance as well asextensive links to other sites. Eye Care Trust www.eyecare-information-service.org.ukWebsite of the Eye Care Trust, a charity that aims to raise awareness of allaspects of ocular health and the importance of regular eye care. A verydetailed site, useful for the occupational health adviser looking for generalinformation. Includes FAQs, details of the latest developments in eye care andlists of common eye disorders, their symptoms, causes and treatments. Applied Vision Association www.dmu.ac.ukOrganisation affiliated to the College of Optometrists, which promotes andadvances the application of research work in all areas related to vision.Includes extensive links to other related sites worldwide. Association of Contact Lens Manufacturers www.aclm.org.ukIncludes news and information about contact lenses, including a very usefulpage of FAQs about contact lenses, and links to related sites. General Optical Council www.optical.org41 Harley Street London W1N 2DJ Tel: 020 7580 3898 e-mail: [email protected] Regulatory body for opticians. The site contains useful information, such asup-to-date news, details of CET and links to other sites. Association of British Dispensing Opticians www.abdo.org.ukMoorfields Eye Hospital NHS Trust www.moorfields.org.ukCity Road, London EC1V 2PD Tel: 020 7253 3411 [email protected] Federation of Ophthalmic and Dispensing Opticians www.fodo.comFight For Sight www.fightforsight.orgUK charity which funds research into blindness. Site includes background informationabout blindness and eye diseases, plus links to related sites. Royal National Institute for the Blind www.rnib.org.ukExtensive and very informative site which offers practical support andadvice for anyone with a sight problem. Includes details of campaigns, eyeconditions, fact sheets, research papers and projects, a web pals board andnews and up-to-date information. International Glaucoma Associationwww.iga.org.ukNational Blind Children’s Society www.nbcs.org.ukDisability Benefits Information www.disabilitybenefits.co.ukTalking Newspapers Association www.tnauk.org.ukAction for Blind People www.afbp.orgDiabetes UK www.diabetes.org.ukRoyal College of Ophthalmologists www.rcophth.ac.ukCompiled by Kate Rouy This listing is not exhaustive and the journal welcomes further additionsfrom readers as well as suggestions for further topics of interest to includein this series Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Employers offer staff a better work-life balance

first_imgEmployers offer staff a better work-life balanceOn 30 Oct 2001 in Personnel Today Howmuch has the world of work changed since 11 September? The terrorist attackcertainly cast a long shadow over last week’s annual CIPD conference asspeakers talked in almost apocalyptic terms about a profound shift in employeeattitudes. Keynote speaker Professor Robert Kaplan told delegates that thetragedy had made staff aware of the fragility of their lives and people werenow looking for more meaning in their jobs.Thisview was echoed by others, and it is worth noting that it was leaders from theknowledge based economy who had reached this conclusion, from companies such asMicrosoft or Citigroup. Employersare responding to this new mood by offering staff a better work-life balanceand examining how well they are communicating company values. However, the realtest will be how companies respond if the economy goes into recession andwhether they revert to the slash and burn approaches of the last downturn. AsCIPD leader Geoff Armstrong says in an exclusive interview with PersonnelToday, before wielding the axe companies need to reflect on the skills needs ofthe future and consider carefully the risk of any damage to the employer brandand the psychological contract. Sofor HR professionals, the present climate offers an opportunity to promoteprogressive HR approaches and to play a key role at the heart of companyrestructuring.  The next decade will bethe one that talented people want to work in. ByNoel O’Reilly Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. last_img read more

Bookmark of the month – www3.gartner.com

first_imgBookmark of the month – www3.gartner.comOn 1 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Related posts:No related photos. You will have seen the name Gartner, a research and advisory firm, quoted onnumerous occasions, predicting the future for e-learning. However, you may nothave thought of going direct to the source before. The Gartner website canprovide trainers with not only useful facts and figures from its research andreports on the e-learning market, but also with some of the best intelligenceon and insight into the sector too, with reference to real examples. You dohave to pay for much of the material, but if a $95 report stops you making abad purchasing decision, it will have been money well spent. Gartner works on asubscription service but you don’t have to be a subscriber to purchasedocuments, you just need to register as a user, which is free. You can clickthe ‘Collaboration and E-learning’ section on the left hand menu or else gostraight to www3.gartner.com/pages/section.php.id.2024.s.8.jsp to find some ofthe most relevant material for trainers. There are also technology andbusiness-specific focus areas that are worth checking out. And don’t forgetthat the press release archive (within News, which is located on the menu barthat runs along the top of the page) contains useful free information – and youdon’t have to be journalist to access it. Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Letters

first_imgLettersOn 11 Feb 2003 in Personnel Today Comments are closed. This week’s lettersNo substitute for real experience In ‘Outside input is needed to make HR strategic’ (HR Viewpoint, 28January), Alan Bailey claims HR business partners are few and far between andthe industry needs to look beyond HR to recruit and develop the stars of thefuture. As someone who has moved from a commercial background into HR, I cancertainly recommend it. Having been in PR all my working life – which includeddeveloping two consultancies – I realised my strengths also lie in peoplemanagement. I implemented training schemes in both consultancies, and we ended upwinning industry awards in PR for two consecutive years for our peopledevelopment programmes. About four years ago, after yet another three-hour meeting with a24-year-old brand manager, discussing the personality of his chocolate barbrand, I had to move on. One of my ex-colleagues, who was then chief executive of Edelman in London,asked me to “take a look at our HR – I don’t think we’re getting itright”. I explained that I had no qualifications in HR, but she insistedthat I was the right person because I had always had a leaning towards peoplemanagement and I understood how business worked. I agreed to do it in the short-term, but four years later I am very muchfull-time, having been given responsibility for developing best practice in HRin all of our 12 European offices, and more recently having started workingwith our offices in Canada, Asia Pacific and Latin America. Despite big differences in employment law across the offices and regions andcultural differences – including silly things such as the time of day I have tobreak for lunch when training (12 noon in Stockholm, 1pm in most of Europe, but2pm in Spain) – the challenges our managers face are exactly the same. How do you make sure you get the best people, how do you motivate them whenyou can’t always reward financially, and how do you get managers to take theirpeople management responsibilities seriously? I have now handed the London office over to a professional HR person, and amdeveloping HR staff in our other offices. I also work closely with seniormanagement to develop HR strategy, which places a lot of emphasis onrecruitment, motivation and retention of top talent. Do I miss PR? Not one bit. I still feel that I work in PR, but the challengeis getting the people management right, and focusing on the most important partof our business is a fascinating and ever-challenging scenario. It is demanding– long hours, lots of travel and sometimes having to clean up other people’smesses – but it is hugely rewarding and I know what I do makes a difference. I never really felt that way about the chocolate bar. Liz Fraser European director of HR, Edelman Career breaks can build staff loyalty I was really pleased to see the subject of career breaks covered so comprehensivelyin Personnel Today (Legal Q&As, 28 January). Career breaks are often overlooked as a way of attracting and retaining keystaff, and along with flexible working options are a good way of retainingexperienced people. The public relations industry – like many others in the service sector – isnotorious for its full-on, full-time attitude, with the result that anyemployee over 30 is treated a bit like an antique. We have found that the introduction of career breaks, sabbaticals and a moreflexible approach to work in the past two years has increased our retentionstatistics at the level we need it most – that is for those with more than fiveyears’ experience. Returnees come back fresh, relaxed, creative and, most of all, committed tothe business that gave them this opportunity. The philosophy may seem full of risk, but I can confirm that it’s worth itfrom an HR point of view. Carmel O’Kane HR manager, Firefly Communications Cheap alternative to Porter’s wisdomSo, we need to invest in labour force skills, innovation, and goods andservices that provide companies with sustainable competitive advantage, claimsProfessor Michael Porter (News, 28 January). This guy is amazing – worth every penny of the squillions paid to him by theDTI and others. Aged 57 and speeding downhill fast, I am more than happy to dispense wisdomof equal quality, and for a lot less cash. It might help me earn more than mymissus – a much younger HR manager. Do you think there is any chance that you could put in a good word for mewith the DTI? Paul Williams Training and development manager, Federal Mogul Powertrain Systems Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Help graduates to become ‘oven-ready’ for life at work

first_imgLooking to recruit top-quality graduates? Employers should invest more inorganising work placements. That way, they will reap huge benefits fromenthusiastic students queuing up for work experienceI frequently hear employers bemoaning graduates’ lack of understanding ofthe workplace and of the key employability skills they consider essential innew recruits. But how can graduates acquire these competencies if employersconsistently fail to provide quality work-placement opportunities? It’s a classic chicken and egg situation that businesses must address ifthey are to secure the quality staff they desire. Indeed, I would say employers are missing a trick by overlooking thebenefits a work-placement student can bring to their companies, and the savingsthey can make on recruitment expenses if they select wisely and view eachstudent placement as an extended interview. The recent National Graduate Media Audit surveyed more than 100 graduaterecruiters, asking them what they believed to be the most effective route torecruiting top-quality graduates. The recruiters cited all manner of media,ranging from directories and magazines to careers fairs, websites and employerpresentations. Yet what do you suppose topped the list as the number one mosteffective method? You guessed, work experience/internships. In addition to the potential savings on recruitment costs, work-placementstudents can bring other benefits. How many companies have ideas on the backburner that fail to reach development stage because of lack of time ormanpower? A student on placement can provide the perfect resource to tacklesuch projects, or even free up a permanent member of staff to progress them. Developing IT systems, creating websites and undertaking market research arejust some projects students can undertake. They can also provide access touniversity resources and bring knowledge of new technologies, which mightotherwise pass the company by. Work experience students can also bring a fresh pair of eyes to spot newopportunities and could suggest effective new working practices which permanentpersonnel may never see, through being so close to the business. The National Council for Work Experience, through its Work ExperienceAwards, has hard evidence of work-placement students who have turned companiesaround with their innovative thinking. Yet it is clear successful work experienceis a two-way process; if employers provide a good brief and adequate support,they will reap the benefits of having an intelligent and enthusiastic employee.It is time recruiters stopped complaining that their graduate starters arenot ‘oven-ready’, and started investing in initiatives that provide them withopportunities to become so. Recruiters say work experience works. Now, as wemove towards the summer term and students begin to look for summer holidayplacements, it is time to put their money where their mouth is and come forwardin much larger numbers to provide quality work-placements. By Liz Rhodes, Director, National Council for Work Experience Comments are closed. Help graduates to become ‘oven-ready’ for life at workOn 6 May 2003 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos.last_img read more

Unemployment at all-time low

first_imgUnemployment at all-time lowOn 23 Mar 2004 in Personnel Today UK unemployment is at an all-time low with just 1.5 million people now outof work. In February, the unemployment rate fell to 4.8 per cent – the lowest sincerecords began in 1984 – with the number of unemployed people falling by 33,000in the three months to January to 1.44 million. The claimant count – ie, those claiming jobseekers’ benefits – showed itsninth consecutive monthly fall, dropping by 6,600 to 885,200 in February – thelowest figure since 1975. The number of people in work grew by 121,000 in the three months to Januaryto a record high of 28.27 million – mainly due to an extra 88,000 women joiningthe workforce. The number of vacancies (around 576,000) also rose, with unfilled posts up15,100 on 2003. Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Comments are closed. last_img read more

Employment Tribunals: an Introduction

first_imgMaximum delegates 20 Timings 9am – 4.30pm An essential one-day seminar from PersonnelToday.com and IRS shows HRpractitioners and line managers how to deal confidently with EmploymentTribunal claims.EmploymentTribunals: an IntroductionThisone-day seminar shows you how to deal confidently with Employment Tribunalclaims. Ittakes you through the stages of the process showing you how to assess thevalidity of claims, prepare a successful defence, and become familiar with theTribunal process. Youwill role-play a hearing based on documents you have worked on. You will seehow witnesses are crucial to your case and understand how damages are assessed.By the end, you will be confident on procedure and have the expertise to dealwith litigation.book nowThebenefits to you and your organisationAfterattending the seminar, you will be able to:–Analyse the strengths of any claims –Advise your organisation on how to minimise the risks –Prepare effectively for a Tribunal and maximise your chances of a successfuldefence–Reduce the likelihood of your organisation ever facing an Employment Tribunal Therewill be particular emphasis on:– Narrowing the case down to the main issues – Preparing for Tribunal – Creating strong witness statements – Assessing which documents need to be disclosed and whichare protected – Assessing who are the right witnesses – Creating statements to support your case – Dealing with the opposition and points in issue – Assessing the value of the claim – Dealing with settlement and assessing whether to appeal Whoshould attend?Theseminar is ideal for human resource practitioners, managers and directors. Itwill also be useful for in-house lawyers with employment responsibilities andtrainers in HR.In-CompanyTrainingIRScan run a specially tailored version of this seminar for your organisation.Call Paul Gasowski on 020 7347 3592.ProgrammeIntroduction–The legal framework –Calculating continuous service –Exclusions: those who cannot claim unfair dismissal Preliminaryprocedure–Evaluating the IT1 (Application) –Completing the IT3 (Response) –Hearing type TheEmployment Tribunal–What is an Employment Tribunal and how does it work? –What is the Tribunal process? –How are claims made? –Practical exercise: defending the claim Assessingthe evidence– Further and better particulars of the claim: how tonarrow the issues down – Dealing with disclosure: important documents to bedisclosed or held back Witnessstatements: ensuring you have the best witnesses for your caseDecidingwhether to settle–Calculating potential compensation –Mitigation –Contributory conduct MockTribunal–You will role-play a Tribunal based on the documents assessed in the morning –You will have the chance to cross-examine witnesses on the available evidence –You will be invited to vote for the outcome you think is correct Thedecision–Following cross-examination and consideration of the evidence the Chair willgive his or her decision on the result of the Tribunal –The method of calculating costs will be revealed by the Chair and considerationwill be given to the right of appeal OpenforumA review of the main learning points and discussionAllseminars come with comprehensive documentation, model policy statements and aCertificate of Attendance. Related posts:No related photos. Duration One-day Location Central London Fees £399 + VAT Public sector £449 + VAT Private sector book nowcenter_img Employment Tribunals: an IntroductionOn 15 Jun 2004 in Personnel Today Dates 13 July 2 November Comments are closed. Previous Article Next Articlelast_img read more

Best week since 2019 for Manhattan luxury market

first_img Email Address* The No. 2 contract by asking price was unit 62B at Extell Development’s 157 West 57th Street.The 4,193 square-foot unit was last asking $19.9 million — down from $25.2 million. It has three bedrooms, three-and-a-half bathrooms and views of Central Park.It was one of a growing number of sponsor units to trade recently, as developers bring prices down to meet the market.According to Olshan’s report, of the 57 contracts signed in the past two weeks, about half have been sponsor units.Contact Sylvia Varnham O’Regan Tags condo marketdonna olshanNYC Luxury Market Message* Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Share via Shortlink A two floor unit in The Benson on Madison Ave was the priciest home to go into contract last week. (The Benson) Buyers are returning to New York’s luxury market in force, with last week netting the largest number of contracts for properties asking $4 million or more since November 2019.There were 30 such contracts signed in total, according to the latest market report from Olshan Realty. Of those, 21 were condo units, four were co-ops and five were townhouses.The surge builds on an upward trend that emerged in the luxury market late last year, offering hope to developers whose sales plunged when the pandemic hit.“It’s a very optimistic report because really what it’s showing is the consumer is out there and aggressively looking at New York as a place to buy and live,” said Donna Olshan, who tracks luxury sales.The priciest home to go into contract last week was the 10th and 11th floors at Naftali Group’s Benson condo at 1045 Madison Avenue, a 15-unit building that’s seen a string of big-ticket contracts of late.The unit measures 8,386 square feet and the buyer will pay the sponsor for the additional construction needed to create the duplex, the report said.Bo Poulsen of Brown Harris Stevens, who represented the buyer, said his clients never visited the building and instead did the deal virtually.“We looked on and off for years,” he told Olshan. “The apartment checked off the right boxes.”Read moreFinancier lists Brooklyn Heights townhouse for $18M432 Park tenants plagued by creaks, leaks and design flawsDaughter of casino magnate Neil Bluhm buys $20M condo Full Name*last_img read more

Gowanus rezoning gets green light

first_img Message* Full Name* Share via Shortlink Bill de Blasiobreakingcity planningGowanusMarisa LagoPolitics Email Address*center_img City Planning Commission Chair Marisa Lago (Getty, Dept. of City Planning)UPDATED, April 19, 2021, 4:30 p.m.: The Gowanus rezoning is a go.Judge Katherine Levine on Monday agreed to lift a temporary restraining order, allowing the proposal to enter the city’s seven-month approval process.The City Planning Commission certified the neighborhood rezoning application Monday afternoon, officially kicking off the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure. City Planning Chair Marisa Lago called the move a “giant step closer” to building a more “inclusive” and “green future” for the neighborhood.“The Gowanus plan is an antidote to the status quo, a status quo that has long put wealthy, amenity-rich neighborhoods under glass and out-of-reach for too many New Yorkers,” she said.ADVERTISEMENTThe move comes three months after the state judge halted the rezoning in response to a lawsuit by community groups. Their complaint accused City Planning of not properly notifying the public of its intention to start the rezoning process and claimed that Ulurp hearings must be in-person under city law.As a condition of the rezoning moving forward, Brooklyn Community Boards 6 and 2 have agreed to a joint hearing, with one outdoor location held simultaneously with virtual proceedings, according to an attorney on the case.“The effort to prevent public participation in the guise of increasing public participation has failed,” declared Ken Fisher, who represents a community that intervened in support of the rezoning moving forward.“The judge properly concluded that she could not block a virtual hearing and that she couldn’t hold the process up any longer,” the attorney said. “She will order the city to have an in-person location in addition for people who don’t have Internet service, but they are well on their way to figuring out the logistics.”The Department of City Planning had announced Friday that Levine might lift the restraining order as soon as Monday. That angered Voice of Gowanus, one of the groups fighting the rezoning, which said the administration “shamefully opted to divulge details of confidential settlement discussions.”In a statement on Monday, an attorney for the group noted that the judge’s order is “provisional and is contingent upon the city meeting certain requirements.”“The court proceeding continues, and Voice of Gowanus will not waver in its fight on behalf of the community to ensure there is increased public participation, access and transparency at any Ulurp public hearings on the controversial Gowanus rezoning plan,” said Jason Zakai, an attorney for the group.To be sure, Voice of Gowanus is also trying to stop the rezoning itself, which it calls “enormous, socially irresponsible, extremely expensive, unjust and developer-led.”The 80-block rezoning would allow for the construction of 8,000 new apartments, of which 3,000 would be set aside as affordable. The administration has not yet committed funding for upgrades to public housing complexes in the neighborhood, which local City Council members have indicated are necessary for them to approve the new zoning.Because the review process takes seven months, any further delay could push its conclusion beyond the end of the de Blasio administration and the tenure of the two City Council members, Brad Lander and Steve Levin, who collectively control its fate.The lifting of the restraining order means the rezoning review can proceed while the lawsuit plays out. Whatever the trial-court judge decides is likely to be appealed, but supporters of the rezoning saw the delay as the main threat to it.Contact Kathryn Brenzel Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on LinkedinShare via Email Share via Shortlink Tagslast_img read more