On Wednesday 11th of July, Manchester City Council will meet and discuss a motion about ‘Making Manchester more Sustainable’. The motion has been put forward by Chorlton councillor Victor Chamberlain, one of 9 Liberal Democrats in the Labour-dominated 96 -member Council.
The motion, which is quite broad and includes lots green policies, was prompted by Manchester Friends of the Earth’s Survey of Local Election Candidates regarding their policies on climate change, food, waste and sustainable transport. Councillor Chamberlain told us that he put forward the motion as it’s easy to make green statements and promises during an election – what he wanted to see now is that they re-affirm these green principles and translate them into action.
“I was also want the council to embrace its role and lead the way in building a greener, more sustainable city,” he said. “There has been a lot of things kicked into the long grass and I want things to get done. The council is good at marketing itself as green but I do worry that it’s just empty rhetoric.”
The motion puts forward a list of suggestions which can either be accepted, amended or rejected at the full council meeting at Manchester’s Town Hall. These include:
- To adopt Meat-Free Mondays in all of the Council’s catering and services.
- To create a Bee Action Plan to create natural habitats in public open spaces.
- To encourage stronger regulations to stop supermarkets from throwing away edible fruit and vegetables
- To switch to a renewable energy tariff for all its buildings and services so that all the electricity consumed comes from a ‘Green’ and sustainable source.
- To declare itself a ‘Fracking-Free Zone.’
- To set a recycling target of 70% by 2025 for Greater Manchester.
- To fully acknowledge the impact Manchester International Airport has on the carbon emissions in the City by ensuring the full impact of the airport (including flights) is included in Climate Change strategies.
- To set a target of 20% of journeys under 5 miles being made by bike by 2020.
- To introduce a default speed limit of 20mph in all residential areas for the benefit of people walking and cycling.
- To support better integration of cycling and public transport in particular through the provision of a cycle carriage on off-peak Metrolink trams and longer distance bus services.
Chamberlain added that this wasn’t a party-political motion and hoped it would get a lot of support and encourage a debate. “I am worried that it will be amended and lose its value but if it’s accepted, I do think it will make a difference. I think there are a lot of practical things and suggestions that the council could take up.”
When ask how he will ensure that the motion’s suggestions aren’t just accepted and then ignored, Chamberlain admitted that it would be challenging. “We will have to monitor it and keep asking for updates on progress. I also think that it’s not just the job of councillor to do this – locals and anybody worried about these issues should try and follow up on these policies’ progress too. I don’t want this motion just to be agreed in principle, I want it to be carried out.”
Bernard Priest (Labour), Ardwick’s councillor and Executive Member for Neighbourhood Services said that his first impressions of the motion suggestions was that they were already part of the council’s existing policy. “There is nothing new in the motion from what I’ve seen and I think the council’s already got a robust set of policies which we need to get on with.”
Priest did however concede that MCC currently has no policy on fracking and although there are no plans for fracking to take place in Manchester, he admitted that he was dubious about the practice. He noted that the council would not be able to change Metrolink’s policy on not allowing bikes on their trams although they could campaign for it.
Priest was also unsure about the meat-free Mondays suggestion as he explained that those getting married at the council on Mondays may not be happy if meat was left off the menu. He concluded: “There is nothing in the motion that I disagree with but I’m at a loss to know what putting the policies together like that will actually achieve?”
Manchester Climate Monthly requested a comment from Manchester Friends of the Earth,
but they were not able to provide one at the time of publication. and they were in the process of sending us this while we were hitting the “publish” button.
“We are pleased that many of the environmental issues highlighted in our local election survey, conducted for the May elections, were positively supported by many candidates across all parties.
“This is a welcome sign that councillors are starting to recognise the importance of tackling environmental issues in securing a prosperous and sustainable future for Manchester.
“We look forward to a positive and constructive debate on Wednesday about these issues, and Manchester Friends of the Earth would welcome the opportunity to work with the Council and other organisations and individuals to help make Manchester a cleaner, greener and fairer city.”