“What IS a low carbon culture?” – what should the report look like

pesTnov2014whatislandscapeThe People’s Environmental Scrutiny Team is throwing together another report.
Who is in this team? Er, you and your friends, and friends you’ve not yet met.
As long as you’re someone who thinks climate change is a real (big) problem, and wants to see Manchester getting ready, then you can get your thinking cap on…

We’ve mapped out a structure for the report below. What’s missing? What’s not needed? What answers/thoughts do you have for any of the sections? Email environmentalscrutiny@gmail.com…

Structure for the 12 Page Report

Illustration (Marc Roberts)
-Contents / Executive Summary 1 page
-Why is this needed (1 para 2 max) – (We are halfway through the 10 year period of the Climate Change Action Plan)
(-//Separate very brief section on “what is climate change”)
-What is a culture?
– Is low carbon enough – how low can you go, do you need to go – (quantifying)
Hannah Knox’s Interview from MCFly
– How do you measure culture?
– Why hasn’t low carbon been defined?1) Contradicts economic growth2) Airport 3) Difficult to measure, which makes bureaucrats/politicians nervous 4) fear of accusation of “nanny state”/”social engineering”

People’s Responses to the question “what is a low carbon culture and how do we get it” (middle two pages)
What is to be done?
– If we want a low carbon culture, what does a) the council need to do b) environmentalists c) academics (SMART goals)
– in the next 6-12 months- In the next 1-2 years
– References
– Invite to the meeting on Mon 17th November at Friends Meeting House

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Upcoming “Policy Week” events – of trade deals and arsenic

Both as part of University of Manchester’s* Policy Week
Manchester Policy Week: The Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership: Cash Bonanza or Risky Deal?
on Tuesday, 4 November 2014 from 19:00 to 21:00

Manchester Policy Week: Poisoning the world’s poor: how can we reduce their exposure to arsenic in water & food?
on Friday 7th, 10 to 11.30

* Declaration: I am now a student at U of M.  I don’ think it’s affecting my assessment of news-worthiness, but then every meat-puppet genuinely believes their strings are not being pulled!

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Making Food Fair – Exploring solutions to the many faces of food poverty

Making_Food_Fair_webSaturday 22nd  November

Federation House, Manchester

The increasing use of Foodbanks has made headline news, but our food system perpetuates other kinds of poverty as well.

While families struggle to feed themselves, farming and the food sector are reliant on poverty wages, poor conditions and precarious employment.

Join us as we explore a food system that is letting down so many and ask, “how can we make food fair for everyone”?

Inspiring presentations and discussion on sustainable solutions to food poverty.

With speakers from Sustain’s London Food Poverty Pilot, Nourish Scotland, Church Action on Poverty and the Principal Investigator of the ERC study “Families and Food Poverty in an Age of Austerity”.

Plus, a chance to feed local ideas and solutions into the national Commission on Food and Poverty, led by the Fabian Society.

This event is organised by The Kindling Trust and Feeding Manchester and is the 16th in an ongoing series of gatherings working to create a fair and sustainable food system for Greater Manchester.

Cost – £10, including lunch. Booking essential.

For full details and to register for the event click here.

Confirmed speakers and topics include:

Rebecca O’Connell, University of London. Principal Investigator of the study “Families and Food Poverty in an Age of Austerity” – An Unfair Food System – an overview of our food system and why it lets down so many families.

Pete Richie, Executive Director, Nourish Scotland – If the farmer is poor, so is the whole country – the politics and economics of land, food and farming.

Ben Reynolds, Deputy Co-ordinator, Sustain and Sustainable Food Cities – Tackling Food Poverty together – Lessons from London’s food access campaign.

Niall Cooper, Director, Church Action on Poverty – Tackling Poverty Head On – practical approaches to confronting poverty in all its forms.

Debs Clarke
On behalf of The Kindling Trust.

Office Number: 0161 226 2242
Mobile: 07843 281266

Email: debs@kindling.org.uk
Website: www.kindling.org.uk
Twitter:  http://twitter.com/kindlingtrust
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/kindlingtrust
Photo Gallery: https://picasaweb.google.com/KindlingTrust

Why not become a Founding Supporter of The Kindling Trust? In 2014 we are looking for 100 people to support our crucial work. To find out more and donate online please visit: www.kindling.org.uk/donate

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Democracy in Manchester – the grubby grubby reality

There is a “Manchester Leadership Forum”. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? But you can’t go to it, and when it runs workshops about creating a new “community strategy” those workshops are a) very poorly attended, and b) there are no minutes.

Oh, and how many members of the Leadership Forum got on it without having been ‘tapped on the shoulder’ by the Town Hall? Er, not a single one.

This is Manchester; we do things “differently” here.

Manchester City Council has six scrutiny committees. The meetings of those six committees are open to the public, and minuted (1). At the last Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee meeting a couple of councillors wanted to know more about this new “Manchester Leadership Forum.”

One of the members of the public who attended that meeting submitted a Freedom of Information Act request (2).  Her requests are in bold, what she got back is in italics

I attended Neighbourhood Scrutiny Committee today and was interested in the Manchester Leaders Forum. I looked on the Manchester City Council website and found a link to the members. However, the terms of reference page was “empty”


a) Could you please send me an electronic copy of the terms of reference (and perhaps ensure that a copy also goes on the Manchester partnership website)

The terms of reference for the Manchester Leaders Forum are available on the Manchester Partnership website at the following link:


This link has been tested as working on Thursday 2 October 2014. Please accept my apologies that at the time you tried to access the terms of reference the link had broken and the attachment was unavailable. I am also attaching an electronic copy of the terms of reference with this letter.

b) Could you please supply a copy of the invite list for the workshop on Monday 22nd September

All members of the Manchester Leaders Forum were invited to attend the Manchester Strategy discussion session on Monday 22 September. In addition to the Leaders Forum members, a small number of additional invitations were extended to external speakers and partners.

c) Could you please provide, when available, a copy of the minutes of the meeting of Monday 22nd September, which – presumably – will include a list of those who attended, those who sent their apologies, and those who neither attended or sent apologies

The Manchester Strategy discussion session on Monday 22 September was the first of three sessions for Manchester Leaders Forum members to discuss the emerging themes of the Manchester Strategy, which will replace the Community Strategy in 2015. The outcomes of the session will inform the design of the strategy, but as it was not a formal meeting there are no formal minutes. It was also not compulsory for all Leaders Forum members to attend this session. Members have been invited to attend as many of the Manchester Strategy discussion sessions as they are able to and have a particular interest in.

As this was a discussion session arranged on a workshop format there are no formal minutes of the meeting. I have however provided a list below of those members of the Manchester Leaders Forum members who attended, sent apologies, and who neither attended or sent apologies:

Attended: Ann Clynch, Gavin Elliot, Ruairidh Jackson, Phil Korbel, Yasmina Lee, Dean of Manchester, Cllr Bernard Priest, Elaine Unegbu, Mike Wild, Sue Woodward.

Apologies sent: Maria Balshaw, Sir Howard Bernstein, John Brooks, Atiha Chaudry, Lou Cordwell, Mike Deegan, Andrew Fender, Lorraine Gradwell, Sir Richard Leese, Mike Livingstone, Tony Lloyd, Paul Martin, John McNerney, Clive Memmott, Michelle Moran, Cllr Sue Murphy, Charlie Norman, Chris Oglesby, Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell, Phil Royle, Michelle Saidi, Michele Scattergood, Bill Tamkin, John Thornhill, Martin Whiting, Nigel Wilson

Neither attended nor sent apologies: Nick Adderley, Mike Blackburn, Rod Coombs, Scott Fletcher, Mike Ingall, Priscilla Nkwenti

[Given how poor attendance was, perhaps someone would like to follow-up with a question about precisely when the invites were sent out?  There is a nasty habit of giving people about a week's notice for these sorts of meetings...]

d) Finally, could you let me know how many nominations were received for membership of the Forum, and the date nominations closed.

Nominations for the Manchester Leaders Forum were received from all of the partnership boards invited to nominate. Details of the partnerships invited to nominate by sector are available within the report ‘Item 6 – Manchester Partnership – Review of the Manchester Board’ to the Council’s Executive on 18 December 2014. This report is available to download at: http://www.manchester.gov.uk/meetings/meeting/2039/executive

This link has been tested as working on Thursday 2 October 2014. The closing date for nominations was 31 March 2014.

In addition to these nominations there was also an open invitation for applications to join the Manchester Leaders Forum, advertised on the Manchester Partnership website between Monday 17 March and Monday 7 April 2014. No applications for membership were received through this route.

So, they put up a blog post for three weeks. They appear to have done precisely no further advertising of the fact that people from outside the charmed circle could get on the Forum. This is Manchester, we do things “differently” here.

Monday 17th November will mark 5 years since the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan became official council policy.  It will mark the half way point to the 2020 goals.  There is a meeting of the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Team, at which we will be mingling, skill-sharing and discussing “what is a low carbon culture”.

The meeting is free, you don’t need to book.  Just bring yourself, your ideas and enthusiasm, and any friends you think will be interested. 7pm at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St. The offer extends to councillors who actually care about climate change (which includes many, but not all of them).


(1) With all the usual caveats about how accurately those minutes reflect what was said/agreed. The meetings are not yet filmed, though Birmingham City Council has no problem in filming all of ITS meetings.

(2) That’s free to do, and all you do is write to informationcompliance@manchester.gov.uk with your questions [keep them specific!], including your name and address and saying at the bottom ‘please consider this a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000).

Posted in Democratic deficit, Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

Scrutiny Week October 2014 #Manchester City Council

As ever, there is no single official page where you can find out what items are being discussed at the six scrutiny committee meetings being held this week.  (Manchester City Council, with 95 of its 96 councillors belonging to the Labour Party, has 6 committees that are supposed to keep the Exec and officers on track).  Such is the contempt and indifference for democracy and transparency that exists in powerful corners of the Town Hall.  Even the simple request of a former Executive member (Nigel Murphy) that upcoming meetings get listed at the top of the meetings page – which was agreed a month ago – has not been done.  They really are laughing in our faces.

Meanwhile, a no-better-than-the-first-or-second-time “implementation plan” for the Environmental Sustainability Subgroup is being brought, on Wednesday morning, to the Economy Scrutiny Committee.  Call me biased, but I think the far more detailed effort of the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Team is better…


Tuesday 21st October

Young People and Children’s

10am The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension


2pm The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Wednesday 22nd October


10am The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Download the Agenda (Download Agenda. 39.02 KB)


2pm The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Thursday 23rd October


10am The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension


2pm The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Posted in Democratic deficit | 3 Comments

Carbon Coop Ecohouses Open Days 18 and 19 October

Greater Manchester Open Eco-homes

Carbon Co-op is running another Greater Manchester Open Eco-homes weekend on 18th/19th October, an opportunity to meet the retrofit pioneers
transforming their homes with energy saving measures and green technologies.

As well as a series of pre-booked householder visits the event also features a free guided bus tour around three of the homes including one from Carbon Co-op’s recent Community Green Deal programme.

Pre-booking is essential! A list of homes and booking links can be found below. The bus tour leaves Hulme Community Garden Centre at 2pm on Saturday 18th October, click here to book.

(There are a very limited number of places remaining on the Routes to Retrofit seminar at the garden centre on the monring of Saturday 18th October.)

Details of the open homes and their opening times can be found below.

Name Area On bus tour? Sat am Sat pm Sun am Sun pm Book
Andrew Gage Cheadle Hulme Yes Info
Andy Hamilton Lancashire Yes Info
Charlie and Sarah Chorlton Yes Yes Info
Eddie Sheehy Eccles Yes Info
Eric Fewster Salford Yes Info
Geoff Thompson Marple Yes Info
John and Catriona Chorlton Yes Yes Info
Keith & Yvonne Chorlton Yes Yes Info
Nigel Rose Chorlton Yes Info


Participating homes….

Click on the picture to find out more and to book a visit


Copyright © 2014 Carbon Co-op, All rights reserved.
This is the email list for the Carbon Co-opOur mailing address is:

Carbon Co-op

3 Corkland Road

Manchester,EnglandM21 8UP

United Kingdom
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Please send “implementation plan” to your ward councillors, and others you know

The grassroots “People’s Environmental Scrutiny Team” has written an “implementation plan” on behalf of Manchester City Council. This follows two failed efforts by the Council’s own “Environmental Strategy Team” to write a plan.  Both those attempts were rejected by councillors on the Council’s Economy Scrutiny Committee as insufficiently detailed.

We now want you to send the PEST “implementation report” to your three ward councillors (whether or not they sit on the Economy Scrutiny Committee or the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee, the two committees that are due to get a third official attempt from the Council’s own officers) and to any other councillors you know.

You can find the email addresses of your three ward councillors by putting in your postcode here.

You could send an email that went something like this -

Dear Councillor,

I am sure you share my concern about climate change and sustainability.  You may be aware that an “Environmental Sustainability Subgroup” of councillors met four times between August 2013 and January of this year.  The subgroup came up with 18 recommendations, which were accepted by Neighbourhoods and Economy Scrutiny Committees in March.  Unfortunately, two separate attempts by the Council’s “Environmental Strategy Team” to produce an implementation plan for making those 18 recommendations into a reality were failures.  After the second rejection, the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Team, a new grass roots group, produced its own implementation plan around those 18 recommendations.


I would be very grateful if you would read it and comment, and – if you are on either the Neighbourhoods or Economy Scrutiny Committees – take it forward for discussion alongside the Strategy Team’s next version.

It’s true that climate change is a global problem, and that Manchester is only one city;  but the Council – and the city – has made a series of commitments, and it needs to keep them in order to be ready for the enormous challenges ahead.  Hopefully this grass roots implementation plan can speed the process a little.

Yours sincerely

[Name, address]


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