Upcoming Event: “Nanas at #Manchester High Court” Thurs 28th August

Nanas at High Court

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“Logging on was difficult” says councillor, re: Carbon Literacy #Manchester

It kicked off yesterday, in Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee, as much as it ever does. Multiple councillors expressed vocal and repeated frustration with the difficulties they are experiencing in signing up for the much vaunted “carbon literacy” training.  Among others, the chair of the committee, Councillor Basil Curley was upset that he had not received accurate information about the order in which the training had to be done. (There are two components – on-line and face-to-face).

Other councillors told similar tales of woe.  (How can I prove this?  Readers, I filmed it.)

One councillor referred to a colleague who is not on the committee, Mark Hackett (Charlestown), saying he had tried “twenty times” to log on.

Councillor Hackett was in the room, and MCFly took the opportunity to ask him about the training. Here’s the video.  (A full video of the committee’s discussion, complete with steam coming out of the ears of various members’ ears, will be posted soon).

It all raises two questions.

1) Why, 8 months after officers assured councillors that the target was 30 councillors carbon literated by June 2014, is the whole process still an omnishambles, with only 9 having done the training as of 25th August? (At least two more had on the morning of the 26th, but this provoked surprise and despondency among other councillors, who had been unaware that the training was on offer that morning!)

2) If the council can’t get something that simple right, what hope is there for the big stuff?

Posted in Climate Change Action Plan, Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

Tonight: “People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee” – for a greener #Manchester

Want to get better at social media, research, video-making and a host of other skills?
Want to meet other people who are trying to make Manchester a greener, fairer place?

pescgoalsiconThe People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee meets tonight, Tuesday 26th August at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St.

The meeting is about meeting people who live near you, or care about the same things, and starting to think about how you can collaborate on projects that already exist or should exist.  The focus is always on building skills.

Two reports – “The Case for an Environmental Scrutiny Committee” and “Things you should know about Manchester City Council #1 August 2014” will be available. But we will not spend ages sat in chairs reading and then doing a sterile “question and answer” session. Instead we will mingle, brainstorm and plan.

If you can’t come (or hate meetings) that’s fine – there will be a post-meeting blog post that explains what happened, and what’s next.

There’s ALSO a “skills audit” that we’d love you to fill in (it will help with planning skillshares and workshops).
There will be meetings for the next 8 months (at least)

The next two are;
Mon 22nd September, 7pm, Moss Side Community Allotment, Bowes St
Mon 20th October, 7pm, Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St

Posted in Campaign Update | 2 Comments

Climate change and (none of) that jazz: #Manchester City Council and its “climate” goals

Manchester City Council is dishing out scarce money and payments-in-kind to cultural events, while making no binding commitments that the events acknowledge the “Manchester Climate Change Action Plan.”

A Freedom of Information Act request has revealed that the Council gave the organisers of the 2014 Manchester Jazz Festival £19,500 and “access to a range of free media and marketing collateral opportunities…. such as promotion on city centre digital screens” while making no specific carbon emissions or “low-carbon culture” demands in exchange.

Fortunately, Manchester Jazz Festival is a responsible organisation (see below), but the fact that there was no compulsion on the part of the Council is, frankly, shocking.

In November 2009, with a certain amount of fanfare, the City Council approved the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan. It was, as they never tired of saying, a plan for the whole city. It had two headline aims. Alongside the “41% carbon reduction” target sat a far more difficult, ambitious and important one, that is worth quoting in full

“To engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city. To create a ‘low carbon culture’ we need to build a common understanding of the causes and implications of climate change, and to develop programmes of ‘carbon literacy’ and ‘carbon accounting’ so that new culture can become part of the daily lives of all individuals and organisations. Every one of the actions in our plan will contribute in some way to the development of ‘carbon literacy’ in the city. However, achieving a new low carbon culture – where thinking about counting carbon is embedded and routine – can only be delivered as a
result of all the actions together, in an overall co-ordinated manner. Enabling a low carbon culture in the city will be particularly important if the challenge of meeting even more demanding carbon reduction targets between 2020 and 2050 is to be met.”

And, half-way to the 2020 goal, is Manchester City Council doing ANYTHING to show leadership, to use its power?

Well, this answer to a FoIA by Manchester Climate Monthly tells you what you need to know -

“I can confirm that there are no copies of specific agreements or assessments/requests between MCC and mjf in relation to [environmental impacts of the festival, including recycling and reduction of carbon emissions] and [measures undertaken to minimise the "carbon footprint" of the Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 event. Including not only the direct carbon emissions from heating and lighting, but also the air and road travel of performers at the festival.]

So, basically, it is pure luck that the Jazz Festival took any steps at all.
This is NOT about bashing the hard-working people at Manchester Jazz Festival. They like jazz. They put on a festival. That’s great, more power to their trombones. What matters is that our local authority, that said it was going to “to engage all individuals, neighbourhoods and organisations in Manchester in a process of cultural change that embeds ‘low carbon thinking’ into the lifestyles and operations of the city” is yet again doing the easy things instead of the right things.

There are other cultural festivals coming up. Anybody like to learn how to use the FoIA?

Here’s the full text of the reply, with a list of the things that Manchester Jazz Festival did at the bottom.

Dear Mr Hudson

Thank you for your request for information – ref: CEX/9MBEDH – which was received by Manchester City Council on 24th July 2014 and has been considered under the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (“the 2000 Act”).

In response to your request, I have summarised the information against each question.

a) Details of any financial support given to Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 by Manchester City Council

Manchester City Council provided £19,500 of event funding to Manchester Jazz Festival 2014

b) Details of other forms of support given by the Council to Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 (for example – free or below-commercial rate use of venues or other non-financial support)

Manchester Jazz festival has the responsibility for all aspects of the development and the delivery of the event – however alongside the direct funding provided, the City Council also allow mjf to operate  under the  existing Premises Licence for the main outdoor performance area – Albert Square –  and supports the multi-agency/safety advisory event planning process. The Council also provides in kind  support with access to a range of free media and marketing collateral opportunities that are available to all event partners.  This includes a mixture of digital channels, external communication channels  and outdoor channels such as promotion on city centre digital screens.

c) A copy of any agreements between the City Council and the Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 organisers that pertain to environmental impacts of the festival, including recycling and reduction of carbon emissions.

d) A copy of any assessments/requests by Manchester City Council especially with regards to the measures undertaken to minimise the “carbon footprint” of the Manchester Jazz Festival 2014 event. Including not only the direct carbon emissions from heating and lighting,  but also the air and road travel of performers at the festival.

I can confirm that there are no copies of specific agreements or assessments/requests between MCC and mjf in relation to your questions c) and d) – however mjf promote to MCC that they:support Manchester’s Climate Change Action Plan and reference Manchester’s Green Event Guide and Event Management System ISO 20121 where relevant.  Manchester Jazz Festival is a small charity run on very limited resources but takes its sustainability responsibilities very seriously. Mjf has in place an Environmental Sustainability Policy and Action Plan, signed off by their Board of Trustees and monitored annually against the targets set within it, as required of all Arts Council England NPOs (National Portfolio Organisations). These documents are bespoke to each organisation and were developed with the guidance of Julie’s Bicycle, the independent organisation primed with assisting NPOs to develop ambitious but achievable policies. Mjf’s policy contains various targets pertaining to the delivery of the festival itself and their year-round office-based activities, and its formulation was in fact championed by Julie’s Bicycle as a model of good practice during its development period. Mjf also reports its Environmental Sustainability achievements annually using Julie’s Bicycle Creative IG tools.

In addition, mjf promote to MCC that:

  • All venues used are within easy walking distance of each other
  • All event venues are easily accessible by public transport/on foot, with access routes clearly mapped in festival print and on-line
  • The majority of the programme features artists based in Greater Manchester, thereby reducing the carbon footprint made by car/plane journeys; car-sharing is encouraged where possible
  • All staff, contractors and volunteers are local to Manchester, thereby keeping travel requirements down to a minimum
  • mjf is gradually moving to produce more on-line marketing as opposed to print, thereby reducing waste of material resources; double-sided print is used where possible and any surplus recycled accordingly
  • The mjf database of attenders is increasingly being contacted via e-mail in preference to postal deliveries
  • Recycled products are used where possible at the event; paper, plastic and glass recycling is used in the mjf office
  • mjf hire water coolers and use large re-useable water bottles throughout the festival, each member of staff, volunteers & musician is encouraged to use one bottle supplied by mjf for the duration of their time at the festival.
  • All lights fitted in the festival theatre, festival bar, festival box office and festival lounge are LED and the lights in the back stage offices are all fluorescent  thus reducing their carbon footprint.
  • Artist accommodation, if required, is always within walking distance of the venue
  • Fairly-traded, locally-sourced, seasonal and organic food and drink is provided at festival outlets wherever possible, along with non-plastic crockery and cutlery
  • Equipment and materials are hired rather than purchased, wherever possible
  • All event banners and signage are re-usable year on year

I hope that the responses to the points above address the detail of your request.

If you are not satisfied with this response you may ask for an internal review.  If you wish an internal review to be undertaken you should contact the Information Compliance Team  whose address is Democratic and Statutory Services, Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester, M60 2LA and email informationcompliance@manchester.gov.uk . A copy of the Council’s access to information complaints procedure can be downloaded from: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/downloads/download/2063/access_to_information_complaint_procedure. If you do not have internet access and require a paper copy, please let me know.

If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review process, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.

The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:

Information Commissioner’s Office
Wycliffe House
Water Lane


Posted in Low Carbon Culture, Manchester City Council | 2 Comments

Skills for a better #Manchester – People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee


onesentenceexplainerofnovicetoninja-page001The People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee is all 95% about the skills you have and the skills you want. The poll below is to find out about what skills you have and what you want. It is FINE to be a “novice” (can’t do it/can only do it with lots of help) and it is also fine not to want to get any better at something! If you are an expert or ninja at something, we will contact you to find out how much time/inclination you have to share those skills via workshops/writing how-to guides. We won’t try to emotionally blackmail you!

At the end of the questionnaire there is an opportunity for you to tell us if you have other skills besides the ones listed here, and if there are others you would like.

The first meeting of the “People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee” is on Tuesday 26th August, from 7pm at the Friends Meeting House. If you can’t make it, that’s fine – there’s PLENTY of meaningful stuff that needs doing – check out the post-meeting post for a list. Second meeting is on Monday 22nd September, from 7pm, at the Moss Side Community Allotment, Bowes St. The “Total Carbon Footprint” that Manchester City Council quietly dropped, will be discussed.

Best wishes


Posted in Campaign Update, capacity building | 1 Comment

Incredible Edible #Prestwich looking for new volunteers #Manchester

Two important volunteering opportunities available for Indredible Edible Prestwich and district, see Feeding Manchester website http://www.feedingmanchester.org.uk/volunteering for more information.


Role summary: You will chair monthly meetings of the organising committee of an ‘Incredible Edible’ group in Prestwich, consolidate its current achievements and help it to diversify into a wider range of activities.

IEPAD Treasurer

Role summary: As Treasurer of the ‘Incredible Edible’ group in Prestwich, you will take the lead in fundraising, report regularly to Core Group meetings, manage the bank account and pay volunteer and other expenses.

Time commitment for both of the above roles

We meet on the second Tuesday of each month for two to three hours. A further flexible contribution of between 5 and 15 hours monthly would be necessary to fulfil the role.

Posted in Campaign Update, volunteer opportunity | Leave a comment

Friends of the Earth action – Ask your MP to say ‘No’ to higher evening fares in Greater #Manchester

From the Friends of the Earth site;

Earlier in August, Northern Rail made the surprise announcement that they are planning to introduce higher peak fares for the evening rush hour. From 8th September, passengers either leaving or entering most of the north’s main cities between 4.00pm and 6.30pm will have to pay for a peak-time ticket, costing up to double the off-peak equivalent currently available. All of Northern Rail’s train services in Greater Manchester will be affected.

The new evening peak fares will unfairly penalise passengers for Government’s failure to invest in adequate train services to meet demand. Among those hardest hit will be some of the most disadvantaged and poorly paid in the labour market. Many part-time and shift workers will be travelling to or from their jobs at this time and will not able to change their travel habits to avoid the higher fares.

Rather than introducing evening peak tickets, the Department for Transport and Northern Rail should focus on improving services and on making Northern Rail’s services more attractive to potential passengers. This should include investing in better trains, stations and offering more flexible ticketing for part-time and shift workers.

As part of our work on sustainable transport, Manchester Friends of the Earth supports the Campaign for Better Transport “Fair Fares Now” campaign and would encourage every one to sign the petition calling on Patrick McLoughlin (Secretary of State for Transport) to Say ‘No’ to higher evening fares in the north of England.

We have also has created this simple Twitter action to encourage Greater Manchester Members of Parliament (MPs) to add their voice to this campaign. If you have a Twitter acount, all you have to do is click on the “Tweet to” links below and a Twitter message will pop up ready to send to your MP.

If you don’t know who your Member of Parliament is, then pop your postcode into the Write to Them website.

Then see the list of twitter accounts created by the Friends of the Earth folks – here.

Posted in Campaign Update, Transport | Leave a comment