A tug on the heartstrings.

It has come to GMWRAGs attention that the next meeting of the Manchester Tribunal User Group has finally been scheduled for Friday the 26th of October 2018 at 10am. This will be held at Manchester Crown Court Building, Ground Floor, Crown Square off Bridge Street, Manchester M3 3FL. The formal invitation, in case you haven’t received one, can be viewed here. Please note that the 2nd page of the invitation is the means by which you can raise questions in advance.

Such is the infrequency and poor communication around these occasions nowadays that GMWRAG had to have a quick debate about whether it should be catagorised as a meeting or an event! Some of us recall when there were supposed to be 4 TUGs a year and have protested for at least a decade at the reduction to 1 inevitably meaningless meeting per annum. Now it would appear we are down to 1 every 18 months, although that rather assumes that the next 1 will be 18 months away and there appear to be no guarantees on that.

For those of you who need reminding, here is a copy of the minutes of the last meeting and here is a copy of the GMWRAG notes on same. The former took a massive 2 months to produce by which time most of the issues raised had been forgotten. The former took less than 1 day! Granted the former is faster than the speed many statements of reasons and record of proceedings requests are dealt with but it does rather sum up our dilemma with HMCTS Local. On the one hand we would always want to be involved in meaningful liaison. On the other hand it’s inevitable that something which no longer has any recent history of meaningful liaison is now nothing more than a localised broadcast. The less the frequency the more that is true.

This also has to be seen in the context of recent but separate communications from HMCTS belatedly asking WR advisers and their clients to get involved in real world testing of

  • online service design review sessions at your location with clients and /or welfare rights officers, reps, advisors and case workers;
  • Attending workshops to feedback on service design.
  • Identifying appellants who have used the new online ‘Appeal a benefit decision’ service and are willing to provide feedback on it.

What could better sum up the usefulness of our local TUG than the statement in the notes that

“The judiciary already have a forum re: practical issues around digitisation held in the Crown Court. We could feed back into that but TS appeared to welcome the idea of more regular meetings with parties interested in this in order that TS could then feedback issues and suggestions nationally.”

The minutes record that this suggestion would be forwarded “… to the relevant people”. 18 months later and nothing has happened at all in consequence.

Actually, there is 1 thing which could better sum up the current position with HMCTS. The 1st tribunal in 18 months has been listed for a week which is the half term holiday for most schools in the North West of England! GMWRAG would ordinarily be minded to protest but fears that we may never see a TUG in Manchester again were we to do so.

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Correction to Manchester TUG details – GMWRAG apologises for actually being administratively worse than the Tribunals Service.

Our recent post re: the Manchester TUG was incorrect.

The Manchester and Stockport TUG will take place on Monday the 27th of March 2017 (not February) at Manchester Crown Court Building, Ground Floor, Crown Square off Bridge Street, Manchester M3 3FL. It will start at 10am and no doubt finish on the dot at 12:00pm.

As per our Blackburn TUG post you need to let the Tribunals Service know if you’re attending.

If you haven’t been notified of the meeting by post then you will need to contact Sandy Barnes, Clerk to the Tribunal on 0151 243 1451. Questions will need to be submitted in advance and the clerk is also the route for that as far as we can ascertain. TS are also asking for details of your organisation, work phone number and work email address. GMWRAG refuses to be anything other than highly amused at the latter given ongoing issues persuading them that appeals can be lodged by email.

We’ll see you there or, alternatively, in the Spinning Fields Costa Coffee beforehand 🙂

 

Manchester TUG sort of announced.

GMWRAG refuses to accept we will ever come up with a better post title than Blackburn Tug(ay). However, with grateful thanks to our friends at Stockport Advice (at least that’s what we thought they were called) we are pleased to announce that the details for the Manchester Tribunal Users Group are now available.

The Manchester TUG will take place on Monday the 27th of February 2017 at Manchester Crown Court. It will start at 10am and no doubt finish on the dot at 12:00pm. If the Tribunals Service ever let us know more details then we’ll let you know.

In the meantime, as per our Blackburn TUG post you need to let the Tribunals Service know if you’re attended. If you haven’t been notified of the meeting by post then you will need to contact Sandy Barnes, Clerk to the Tribunal on 0151 243 1451. Questions will need to be submitted in advance and the clerk is also the route for that as far as we can ascertain.

The next Tribunal User Group meeting for Manchester and Stockport has been announced.

In view of recent announcements on court closures and plans for wholesale reform of tribunals GMWRAG is (sort of) pleased to announce that we have received an invitation to what is now being titled the “Manchester and Stockport” Tribunal User Group. This is scheduled to take place at Manchester Crown Court Building, Ground Floor, Crown Square (off Bridge Street), Manchester M3 3FL on Friday the 4th of March 2016 at 10:00am.

If you don’t know where this is… you probably don’t belong there 🙂 However, we’re confident that any map web site will help you find your way there. Google Maps even has user reviews, which has amused us no end. GMWRAG thought “Nice but full of criminals” was possibly the least helpful 4 star review we have ever read!

Please be aware that central Manchester is currently gridlocked for a number of reasons so, if you are travelling to the venue from outside the city centre, we strongly recommend public transport. Salford Central railway station is a 5 minute walk away and easily accessed from Manchester Victoria, which is of course served by both trams, trains and buses.

The meeting is described as “an opportunity for the representatives of a wide cross section of tribunal users to discuss issues that concern them with the Judiciary and Management team.”

That’s fair enough, although HM&CTS also assert that “Previous meetings have proved constructive in targeting both positive and negative areas of service that we provide.” GMWRAG is not quite sure what that means in practise.

We’re posting this up now as we are aware that, far from being a “wide cross section” of users, TUG meetings in the past have been plagued by many organisations disappearing off the mailing list and not receiving their invitations despite having been invited in the past. To make life easier we have posted a copy of the form you need to complete in order to attend. You can download this here. We apologise if it downloads sideways rather than in portrait. We have lost the will to live when it comes to scanning in documents.

Please note that you are expected to submit questions in advance.

If you are aware of when other TUGs in the North West of England are taking place please let us know via Contact GMWRAG as soon as possible. We will be happy to post details up here to ensure that attendance is truly diverse.