#Manchester Council to spend up to £30k on Green Strategy that in-house bureaucrats were supposed to do.

Manchester City Council’s environmental strategy team has invited outsiders to write its Green Infrastructure Strategy. It is looking for a “suitably qualified consultant with relevant experience to undertake the production of a Manchester Green Infrastructure Strategy and Action Plan.”
The strategy, which has been promised and not delivered for years, is supposed to look at how Manchester can best protect and derive economic benefit from its “Green and Blue” infrastructure (parks, verges, canals and lakes).

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On Monday 12th of August a tender process was started. Applicants are invited to submit their bids by September 2nd. The lucky winner will be informed mid September, and be expected to have the work done by January 2015, only two years after the Council said it would be done.

Up to £30 thousand pound is available. Mercifully, the winning bidder will have to pay the minimum wage.  But the whole sordid affair raises questions – what is the Council paying its existing staff to do? Did it offer voluntary redundancy to too many people? Or perhaps to the wrong people?

And there’s a bigger question; The Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee, which is supposed to keep tabs on what the Council is up to, is receiving a very brief report next Tuesday (2pm, Town Hall Scrutiny Room, public welcome) about the Council’s climate plans. The Green Infrastructure Strategy is mentioned, but, oddly, the fact that in-house “expertise” is not being used, and that £30,000 is being spent instead, slipped the mind of the report’s authors.(1)  Will any member of the committee challenge the officers on this?

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Such is the state of transparency in Manchester at present.

Marc Hudson
mcmonthly@gmail.com

PESC26thaugustIf this makes you angry – and it should – please think about getting involved in the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee. It has monthly meetings (the next one is on Tuesday 26th August, 7pm at the Friends Meeting House; the following one is on Monday 22nd September, from 7pm, at the Moss Side Community Allotment, Bowes St. But besides meetings (which many people hate!) there are plenty of other things to do. Please check out the regularly updated jobs list.

(1) And the report was released on Monday 19th of August – a week AFTER the tender documents went up. The report author knew about the tender.

Posted in Climate Change Action Plan, Democratic deficit, Green spaces, Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

Clean Up day in #Manchester Saturday 13th Sept – #Chorlton #Fallowfield #Burnage

letsdoitLet’s do it! UK is calling all Brits to join in the UK’s first nationwide clean up day on 13 September. We’re calling on everyone to come out and clean up their local area – together. This is your chance to call attention to the litter problem and show how much we all care about where we live.

Litter is a problem we all share, and this has been expressed in the way other country’s have responded to their clean up days. In Romania 250,000 people took part in the clean up day, while Slovenia inspired 289,000 to take action against litter.

Dr Luke Blazejewski, Let’s do it! UK Campaign Coordinator, said: “This September we are organising the UK’s first nationwide clean up day. Visit our website – www.letsdoituk.net – and enter your postcode to find your nearest clean up taking place on the day. It’s that simple. And if no clean ups are registered in your area, why not create one? Simply click ‘Start your own’ on our website and fill in the form provided to start a clean up action in your area.

We currently have cleans being planned around Manchester in Chorlton, Fallowfield and Burnage. Join us on 13 Sept and let’s clean up the UK together”.

For news and updates on Let’s do it! UK visit www.letsdoituk.net where you can sign up to our newsletter, follow @LetsdoitUK or visit our Facebook page.

Text by Dr Luke Blazejewski

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How to Lobby Councillors – #Manchester #climate etc. Comments welcomed!!!

Here’s a pdf of the image below

If you’ve got ideas about how to improve this guide, let me know please – environmentalscrutiny@gmail.com

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Posted in Climate Change Action Plan, Democratic deficit, Manchester City Council, Unsolicited advice, volunteer opportunity | 3 Comments

Polar Bear Facepalm: Government regulator blocking green energy coops

From here.

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One of the commentators has put forward a totally crazy conspiracy theory, that a large government regulator might – “screw the small guys down leave the field to the big boys, and the private equity asset pirates,

 

 

Posted in Energy, Polar Bear Facepalm | 2 Comments

Letter in #Manchester Evening News about council scrutiny and carbon literacy #climate

menletter14aug2014They edited it. Here’s the full text.

Following on from Amal Basu’s letter (August 7th) about the lack of environmental action by Manchester City Council.  As readers will know, there are 95 Labour Councillors and one “Independent Labour” Councillor.  There are six scrutiny committees, made up of “back-bench” councillors, which are supposed to keep tabs on the 9-member Executive and officers.
I recently asked the chairs of the six scrutiny committees if they had gone through the one-day “carbon literacy” training that has been talked about for years.  Three replied – “no, but we will”.  Three others didn’t even reply.
This isn’t good enough.  On Tuesday 26th August there is a meeting of the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee.  This exists so that people can get to know each other, support each others’ projects and efforts. It also exists to lobby – via its example – the Council to set up a seventh – Environmental Scrutiny Committee.  The meeting is from 7pm at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St.  If you can’t come, but still want to be involved, you can email environmentalscrutiny@gmail.com or look at environmentalscrutiny.info

Marc Hudson
editor of Manchester Climate Monthly

And the three non-replying scrutiny chairs?  Having not replied to repeated emails and the occasional tweet, please step forward Tracey Rawlins (Baguely ward, chair of Communities), Carl Ollerhead (Didsbury West, chair of Finance) and – oh the irony, given that he chairs the very scrutiny committee (Neighbourhoods) that is supposed to be looking at climate change – Basil Curley.

 

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#Manchester City Council deputy leader speaks out on environmental scrutiny (#climate #biodiversity)

Councillor Bernard Priest, one of the two deputy leaders of Manchester City Council, has stated that the Council needs to look again at how it monitors its environmental actions.  Responding to the proposal of a seventh scrutiny committee to sit alongside the existing six, he stated

“…What is clear is that we have to come up with a way of making sure that we focus our attention on [environmental issues], which we have decided is a priority.”

He conceded that the Council is ” like everybody else; we’re capable of saying ‘let’s look at this distracting, interesting problem we know we can solve, rather than this big important problem that we’re not sure how to solve.’”

At 7pm on Tuesday 26th August, the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee will meet at Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St.  Attendance is free, and there’s no need to book.  More information can be found at environmentalscrutiny.info

The full interview can be heard here, transcript below.

Transcript;

On the question whether and how Manchester City Council can be focusing its attention on environmental issues. How and why and what?
You’ve proposed that we have a seventh scrutiny committee that focuses on environmental issues, and I can see why you’ve proposed that. I’m not sure that is necessarily the solution, but what is clear is that we have to come up with a way of making sure that we focus our attention on this issue, which we have decided is a priority. If it is a priority for us, we have to have a way of focusing our attention effectively upon it. I don’t think we’ve yet got that fully in place. So you’re right to raise the issue. You’ve proposed a solution which might not be the only option; we’ll have to look at other options. But the question you’ve raised is the right one.

What would you like to see people in Manchester doing to focus their own attention, their council’s attention, their school’s attention, their trade union’s attention on “environmental challenges”, broadly understood?
Not one thing; there’s a great many things. I think in every context, whether its a school, or a community group, or a family, we have to constantly remind ourselves that we live in an environment, we live an environment that is not capable of withstanding six or seven billion human beings without us being careful about it. We have to nurture our environment, not abuse it. We’ve got to keep reminding ourselves about that [because] it is easier to put into the back of your mind sometimes. Because it raises really big issues about how we should travel, how we should feed ourselves. And those issues are uncomfortable, but we’ve got to keep focusing our attention on it. It should be on the national curriculum, schools should address the issue as a major item of the curriculum. And a council like ours has got to find a way of keeping reminding ourselves that it’s one of our priorities. Because it is one of our priorities, but we’re like everybody else; we’re capable of saying “let’s look at this distracting, interesting problem we know we can solve, rather than this big important problem that we’re not sure how to solve.”

Thank you. Anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks for the coffee.

Posted in Manchester City Council | 2 Comments

Robin Williams on #climate change. (RIP)

RIP Robin Williams.  I grew up on Mork and Mindy.  Loved him in “Good Will Hunting.”

via Climate Progress.

By the way, if you’re going through tough times -

The Samaritans 24/7 – 08457 90 90 90

Campaign against Living Miserably.  free, confidential helpline open every day 5pm – midnight 0800 585858 (national) 0808 802 5858 (London)

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