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).
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?
Such is the state of transparency in Manchester at present.
If 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.