Money, Democracy and Feedback – We talk to the Steering Group

The Steering Group, which is tasked with implementing the city-wide climate change action plan, insists that it is not a public body to be scrutinised

Here at MCFly, we like to ask questions. Lots of lots of them to lots of different people. Call it curiosity- even better, call it good journalism. Over the years, we have been asking the Steering Group some of our questions. Not particularly difficult questions but important ones (we think) about the openness, transparency and democratic nature of the group. In the past, we highlighted the fact that elections for the members of the group had been unfairly cancelled. At the annual stakeholder conference a couple of weeks ago, the steering group announced that they would now hold elections. Victory. So, we asked them a whole load of other questions.

Could we have a breakdown of the costs of the stakeholder conference?

Steve Connor, who heads the Steering Group, insisted that the cost of the conference was very low and that he didn’t see the point of using up time to go into the details of the costings. “It was about £4-5,000 in total. It was a very cheap conference, we called in favours, there were no speaker costs and lots of people volunteered their time to run the workshops. Do you really think it would be time well spent if I got Groundwork [who work with the Steering Group] to go through the accounts and produce a spreadsheet on the minute detailed costings of the conference?”

Why has there been so little information about the conference available on their website?

Connor responded that the reports from the 8 workshops were now complete and would be available on the website shortly. Following the conference, a request was also sent out via email to all the attendees for feedback. The response, however, was not great. Connor told me that just six people responded to the email and that he attended a meeting today about it and the need for more feedback responses to help them evaluate the conference. Feedback not just on the practical aspects of the conference (such as timing, location etc) but the strategic feedback about who they are trying to connect with, their audience and what they want to achieve.

If you attended the stakeholder conference and want to give the Steering Group some feedback, you can visit the manchesterclimate.com website.

Can the public attend the full Steering Group meetings?

No. That’s the short answer. Connor added that the steering group is not a public body or a council organisation to be scrutinised. He did however admit that the issue had not been raised in the group before and that he would be happy to raise it at the next meeting for consideration.

Is the Steering Group Still working to encourage organisations who endorsed the Manchester A Certain Future strategy to actually come up with an action plan?

Connor admitted that the current record on action plans (just two- one by the council and the other by Northwards Housing) was “fairly rubbish” and recognised that there is a problem. He explained that they have been looking at how to best approach this problem and the need to “pitch the idea right” to be able to generate more plans. One of the ideas is to approach it sector by sector and pitch the importance of the action plan in more specific terms to the sector. Connor also added that they would be focusing on the worst performing sectors rather than those who were actually doing well.

Arwa Aburawa 

Mcmonthly@gmail.com

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About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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