Manchester City Council has six “scrutiny committees.” These meet ten times a year. One committee (Neighbourhoods) is explicitly tasked with looking at climate change, but ALL of them have a role to play in helping the Council – and the City- prepare for the challenges ahead. Below are a few broad suggestions of things that councillors could ask for reports on. Doubtless they themselves will have better ideas!
Meanwhile, there are also cheap and easy things the Scrutiny Committees could do to raise awareness of their existence (it is pretty low at present!)
- Send out invites to civil society groups whenever an item of interest is being discussed.
- Keep web pages updated (on several the latest news is from July 2012)
- Have agendas and minutes and reports all viewable without having to click on “download”, e.g. via issuu.com
- Have twitter accounts for the committees and use hashtags
- Have a facebook presence
- Make short videos about each committee – who they are, what they do and put them up on youtube/vimeo etc
- Encourage committee members to blog (individually or collectively) about what the committee is discussing, how the committee works and how people could get involved.
Communities Scrutiny Committee
- How Manchester’s vulnerable people (especially the elderly, victims of domestic violence etc) would cope in a prolonged heatwave
- What are the policing implications of a prolonged heatwave/other environmental events? How frequently are plans being updated, with reference to other cities’ experiences.
- How might disputes between countries in the rest of the world affect community cohesion here in Manchester (e.g. water wars fought between neighbouring countries ‘spilling over’ into local communities)
Economy Scrutiny Committee
- The committee could complete a process begun in November 2010, when it commissioned a report on Steady State Economics. That led to a large public “green seminar” in June 2012, at which the creation of a citizen-led report on Steady State economics and its implications for Manchester was announced. The committee could ask for a presentation about this report.
- How can the digital culture sector of Manchester be encouraged to help make Manchester greener and fairer?
- What skills will be needed for Mancunians to thrive in the coming decades (outside the traditional curriculum), and what is Manchester City Council’s role in helping these happen?
Finance Scrutiny Committee
See here for more info.
“Two broad roles. One is to keep a close eye on the Council’s finances and the other is to make sure that the Councillors you have elected can voice your concerns in an effective way to different public services, such as the Council, NHS, Police and Fire. We have discussions with these organisations and use our local knowledge of Manchester to recommend to them how they can ensure their services meet your needs.
“Our areas of interest include finances, Council buildings, staffing, corporate and partnership governance as well as Council tax and benefits administration.”
- What progress is being made with the role out of “carbon literacy” training for Council staff, and what synergies exist with other large organisations? What lessons have been learnt, what changes will be made?
What preparations have the NHS, Police and Fire made for extreme weather events? How are they working to ensure greater levels of community resourcefulness in the face of extreme weather events?
Health Scrutiny Committee
- The physical and mental health impacts of climate change on various communities (old, young, disabled, poor). Obviously the direct impacts – of extreme weather events, but also the “indirect” effects of bad news in the media, and from extended families in parts of the world that are already suffering significant climate impacts.
- What plans does the NHS have in place to cope with extreme weather events? Are these fit for purpose?
Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee
- Annual Carbon Budgets of the City Council (the next one is due in July 2013) and other partner organisations
- The performance of the Steering Group in galvanising climate action in Manchester
- The Annual Stakeholder Conferences – successes, failures, lessons for the future
- Ways that councillors could work more effectively with civil society groups to create momentum and transparency in climate action
Young People and Children Scrutiny Committee
- Psychological impacts on young people and children of environmental disasters, their fears and uncertainties for the future (risks of self-harm, suicide, bullying etc). How can we build psychological and community resourcefulness? What is being done well in the city, what is being done well elsewhere? See this blog post which asks the question “At what age do we start talking with children about the unfolding environmental catastrophe?”
The skills that will be needed for thriving in the 21st century