This stuff matters. We want to pick out one sentence in Manchester City Council’s reply to our questions about the (delayed) Annual Carbon Budget presentation.
“The City Council was among the first authorities in the country to embed low-carbon thinking across all council services”
While you can quibble about the real meaning of “low-carbon thinking,” it is true that Manchester City Council has, over the last few years, been one of the more proactive local authorities around climate change. Now, no doubt people with calculators and a passing knowledge of climate science will look at the target (41% reduction by 2020) and say “not ambitious enough.” Or “what about Manchester Airport’s airside emissions?” Or even “what about the promised ‘Total Carbon Footprint’ approach – when is that going to kick in?” Those are important questions, and we will be asking those – and others - in due course.
But our key points are these: The Council finds itself in a leadership position in terms of its internal processes. (1) Where it is NOT leading is in;
a) regulating businesses and other organisations. It seems very much “all carrot, no stick.” The time for a few sticks is upon us.
b) leading by example with its transparency (EAP – where is it?, ESPB – where are the minutes, Steering Group – enough said, willingness of senior elected members to be interviewed, the willingness of members of the press team to admit errors).
c) actively engaging with the public around these issues. In the absence of the print publications that it used to run (victims of the cuts), its web-performance becomes crucial. The lack of blog posts by all members of the Executive (with the partial exception of Richard Leese) is unsustainable.
Anyway, we asked the press team
a) precisely when the decision not to present the budget in July was taken
b) the reason(s) for the delay in finalising the budget
c) the effects this 6 week delay has on forward-planning for the following year
Here’s the reply, sent to us this afternoon, in full;
Councillor Nigel Murphy, Manchester City Council’s executive member for the environment, said: “The City Council’s annual carbon reduction plan enables us to review the previous year’s activities and set our priorities for next year. The item was deferred from July until the next available meeting in September as we wanted to guarantee that the figures being put before the committee were accurate.
“However, our priorities for the current year have already been identified, so this deferment will have very little effect on the general direction of our rolling programme of activities. The City Council was among the first authorities in the country to embed low-carbon thinking across all council services and this deferment will have absolutely no impact on that.”
The Neighbourhood Scrutiny Committee meeting will take place on Tuesday 4th September. The Annual Carbon Budget will then go to the City Council’s Executive on Wednesday 12th September. Both meetings are at Manchester Town Hall, both are open to the public.
(1) As in, they are trying to make their internal processes less carbon unfriendly. And they’re trying to raise the surviving staff’s awareness- levels. They even had a very good “Green Impacts” Award Ceremony recently – we’re told the cake was very tasty!