Roger Griffiths, a long-time MCFly reader and contributor, attended the recent “Stakeholder” “Conference.” In the third – and probably final – attendee account to be published on MCFly, he makes some very astute points. Read on!
Sorry to have taken so long to write this [Actually, less than 48 hours is very very speedy!! Ed]. After the meeting I could not understand what I had been to, or get my head round the details. I tried reading the reports they gave us but it got worse. It’s too vague for me. Like nailing a jelly to the wall as they say. So this is really a letter to you, with at least some of your questions answered. If you want to put some of it in the blog that’s fine. I saw David’s report which I thought was good.
The meeting was held at a shiny new building at 3 Piccadilly Place. On arriving at the 7th floor I entered a very large room with perhaps two dozen round tables covered in white table cloths. Was it a wedding breakfast I’d come to? Or symbolic; the mass nuptials of the great minds of Manchester ?
Then I saw two women trying not to notice me. So I went over to say hello which gave one of them the chance to leave. The remaining lady seemed quite pleasant. I looked at her badge and saw she was a member of the sub committee. What a chance I thought. “I see you are on the sub committee” I said, “is it still in existence ?” She nodded. “It’s just that some of us have be trying to get hold of the minutes of the meetings but we cannot.” She looked bewildered and replied “They are in ‘Drop Box’” she said, “anyone can see them there.” I asked how you access them but she didn’t know. She said she would have someone let me know but I have yet to hear. Edging to another question I said I was acquainted the the editors of ‘Manchester Climate Monthly’. At this her lips hardened. She didn’t quite stagger back on her heels and hold a cross to my face but said “They were here last year. They were very negative. They were very rude and kept disrupting the meeting.” (1) Supportive as ever I just said “That’s them!”
Before this Steve Connor started the proceedings. He talked about the 30 strong steering group, sustainable buildings and that more and more people were “getting” it. They are “getting it” and it makes a lot more sense – and it is good for business.
Sir Richard then spoke for a while. He talked about the “plan of action” and then the poetry flowed – only city using stakeholders, significant progress, Liverpool and Leeds Core City Groups, Low Carbon Hubs, Green Banks, Hydro Power, more fish and best, of all, “Memoranda of Understanding” He added that many changes were not obviously visible. Later there were more talks from visitors from Liverpool and Leeds.
As for us punters I guess there was about 100 of us. Most of us were white – I saw two black people. Again, at a guess 60% were men average age say 45 and probably mostly business men. The women were probably 10 years younger and perhaps more academic. As for unused badges there were about 30, mostly housing groups, research and university groups.
Eventually we all sat down. We had all chosen two subject groups with whom we could have a round table session. These were reasonably well chaired and some useful ideas were discussed. Then we translated them into drawings or plaster scene models. Most of us cannot draw or model therefore our ideas were largely reduced to nonsense. I am not saying this was deliberate but it was quite clear that the event was micro-managed to perfection. There were no official windows to ask questions while I was there, but I did leave a few minutes early.
To be fair I think there is a genuine concern about climate change. They say they ‘get it’ but I suspect many of them ‘get it’ at the stage many of us were 10 years ago. Someone did say that we only have 4 years to turn it round but I feel they are trying to tackle it with standard business models. I suppose it’s easy for us to sit in the wings and crow and come up with ideas but it’s for them to implement them. Could we do better ? I don’t know. We really need to find a way to work with them. (2)
Footnotes (by MCFly)
(1) MCFly says – this is, of course, inaccurate and defamatory. We are used to this sort of thing though …
(2) We could try sending them a letter listing a series of cheap and implementable suggestions, like this one that the MCFly editors sent in January? January 2012, that is. No acknowledgement, no reply. We have started doing some of these items ourselves…