Here is the text of the proposal sent to the Council on March 19th. There are typos, which were there in the original. For the record, at the bottom of it is the content of the covering email.
The Environmental Advisory Panel: A new lease on life?
“I’m not a great fan of navel-gazing, but it is probably about time that the Environmental Advisory Panel – and partners, ought to do a little bit of navel-gazing around ‘right, what’s the agenda for the next few years?’ Not spend too long on that… It’s very easy for institutional arrangements to get fixed without being quite clear what they exist for and I think any organisation needs to revisit what it’s doing on a relatively regular basis. The EAP hasn’t done that since it came into being, and it’s probably about due for looking at its relationship with the certain future Steering Group and other parts of what’s going on, and even looking at ‘do we have the right people sitting around the table anymore?’”
I’ve searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Situation: Attendance at the EAP has dwindled. In addition, its place in the “eco-system” of climate governance in Manchester is markedly less clear than when it was formulated in 2009.
Mission: To be aired and explore the perspectives of both Council members and “civil society” members on how the EAP could be reformulated/refreshed to better meet the needs of its members and the broader constituency.
Execution: An anonymous survey is undertaken to find out what current and past members think of the EAP. The raw data of this survey are circulated within the existing group. One council panellist (either officer or elected member) and one panellist have the responsibility to synthesise a series of implementable proposals
Administration: The survey, once agreed, could be sent out immediately, with a deadline (of 3 weeks). To encourage people, non-return of the survey could be taken as a resignation from the EAP.
A second email, reminding those who had not replied would need to be sent one week before the deadline
There would of course, need to be genuine anonymity. This is not so hard to do, however.
Command and Control: meh. I don’t know.
Ask all the current and previous EAP members, on conditions of anonymity
- what is the best thing the EAP has done during its existence.
- what is the most useful function that the EAP currently forms?
- what are your frustrations around the way it currently works?
- what improvements would you make to its format and itsmission.
- If you have resigned from attendance at the EAP, or find yourself only coming infrequently, what are the reasons for this? What would cause you to want to rejoin/attend more frequently.
- Anything else you want to say?
Once the mission of the EAP is clearer, then the following questions would need to be addressed as a matter of urgency
- Are the right people around the table? Who is missing? How do we encourage these “missing” people to become active members of the EAP.
- How frequently should the EAP to meet?
- Are its meetings to be open to the public?
- How does the EAP relate to the Steering Group, and to other relevant bodies?
- Should the EAP have some form of public-facing role (and budget?) Is this duplicaiton and confusion? (I think ‘yes’, but perhaps the opinion needs to be tested!)
Well, that will depend! Doing the survey is pretty straightforward, though, and worth it, no?
FWIW, here are some things I think would help -
Each meeting starts with a “coercive mingle” where people who do not know each other are ‘encouraged’ to meet each other, and then introduce each other to everyone else.
A q and a/”things EAPers have heard about that could be done in Manchester/are actually being done in Manchester happens at the outset of the meeting.
The meetings work under the law of two feet
Minutes are circulated within two weeks (this is one that we keep raising, keep getting assurances about, and then have to keep raising!)
The dates for the EAP meetings are set (in stone) for the next twelve months. After 8 months, the following twelve months are set.
A “request for agenda items” email is sent out two weeks before the EAP meeting, to make sure that civil society members have a chance to put forward agenda items that
The responsibility for setting the agenda and chairing the meeting is rotated between the two bodies. Initially this will be tricky, but it will actually take some of the strain off council officers, giving them additional copious free time.
More time is spent in subgroups and using innovative forms of opinion and fact gathering (all of us listening to one person speak at a time is not exactly twenty-first century, or efficient).
The ESPB minutes are circulated to EAP members so that the EAP can perform one of its stated roles.
Covering email, sent March 18th 2012
below, and attached as a word document, please find some thoughts on the future of the EAP. Or rather, thoughts about how to gather the thoughts of other people.
In an unusual step – I hope you’re sitting down when you read this – Ive also added some of my own opinions underneath that proposal.
PS I’ve cced in a couple of other EAP members because I told them I would. They’ve not seen what I’ve written before.
PPS I’ve sent this from the MCMonthly email, but it’s not something Arwa has seen or commented upon. I am bccing her in.