There was a casual air about the event. Steve Connor said we were looking at ‘How to deliver the Plan’, but no one did, really. It was more a question – yes, you’ve guessed – of rallying speeches and over-burdened & inconclusive workshop sessions.
Richard Leese celebrated ‘stakeholder involvement’ as a distinguishing characteristic of Manchester: A Certain Future. But there are serious issues about the capacity of the Steering Group to function. So the jury’s out on that, then.
The man from Liverpool told us it’s all happening off-shore, in the Irish Sea, with £18 billion invested in wind farms by 2030. Not much about Liverpool itself, though.
But the main feeling from the day is that this was – once again – a comfortable corporate event for professionals making a living in the low carbon world, mainly men (of course), well-intentioned, some fruitful conversations on the edges of the event, but in real terms not going anywhere
The workshops combined being too broad and ill-focused with being unhelpfully compartmentalised (‘Transport’, ‘Culture’?). I’d be intrigued if anyone could write up a report from the workshops which identified any significant contribution to the theme ‘How do we deliver the Plan?’. And did we really have to play with plasticine, glitter, coloured shapes, and pipe cleaners to produce our workshop ‘vision’? Dreadful. And someone told me he’d run into turbulence mentioning the Airport – well, you would, wouldn’t you?
What shouted out was that voices from the neighbourhoods and communities of Manchester were missing (again). This process simply does not touch the overwhelming majority of people in this city. It is invisible. We are encouraged as participants to feel that we are the evangelists, and that we can change the world. We can’t. On this evidence I’m not convinced that Manchester’s climate change action plan is going anywhere.
In a sense you don’t want to go to these meetings, but you can’t not go. Perhaps I feel more critical about the meeting than some because no one was paying me to be there. It makes a difference – I really don’t like wasting my time.
David Mottram is the secretary of Manchester Green Party, but the opinions expressed are his own, and do not constitute Manchester Green Party’s position
Editor’s note. We did chuckle at the phrase “you can’t not go.” We MCFly editors were, of course, banned from attending – with no reason ever given by the individual who took (or merely passed on?) that decision. For that reason and many many others (which we will mention soon), we say “so much for ‘stakeholder engagement.'”