In perhaps the most unsurprising news since Pope Francis announced he was not in fact Protestant, Hindu, Muslim or Buddhist, the Executive of Manchester City Council this morning approved an update on the “Manchester Airport City Enterprise Zone.” And it did so without even a whisper about the carbon dioxide emissions that are cooking the planet. MCFly editor Marc Hudson reports.
The meeting has already whipped through 12 items at supersonic speed before item 15 was announced. After a brief presentation on the update by the Chief Executive Howard Bernstein, the Deputy Leader of the Executive, Jim Battle (Richard Leese is Away) opened the floor for questions.
The other Deputy Leader, Sue Murphy (see MCFly interview here) welcomed the report and stated that the Council “need to pressure” the Airport (the City Council still owns 35% of it) so that the (skilled and unskilled) jobs that will be generated by building the “Airport City” in fact go to Manchester residents. Simon Wheale, the leader of the ever-shrinking Liberal Democrat group (1), echoed Cllr Murphy’s point and threw in some approving comments about High Speed 2. This was one of the few agenda items on which he was not heckled by Labour councillors.
And none of the other six Executive Members present mentioned the, ahem, “tension” between a planned reduction in the City’s emissions and the growth of Airport City. None of the Assistant Executives present (Akbar, Lone, Rahman and Reeves) spoke.
At a Scrutiny Committee meeting earlier this year there had been a proposal – that caused some excitement – that reports should not just name potential implications for the Council’s goals around Equal Opportunities Policy, Risk Management, Legal Considerations and the like, but also environmental goals. No progress yet on this, it seems (the screen grab below is from item 15). It’s the silences you have to listen to…
MCFly editor silenced – by himself
Theoretically there could have been an intervention. After all “Members of the public do not have a right to speak at [Executive] meetings but may do so if invited by the Chair.” As it was I fought, and lost, a battle with myself. It seemed, tbh, a little pointless. If only there was some sort of coalition of campaigners and residents trying to Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport. Or rather, if only there were some sort of actually -existing coalition of campaigners and residents trying to Stop Expansion at Manchester Airport.
So, the health spa will be built, ensuring prosperity for all… And meanwhile, you’re left asking yourself whether Labour will decline to stand candidates against the last remaining Lib Dems in next year’s council elections. After all, if they go, who will the Exec have to sneer and catcall at, in the manner of a rather bored cat toying with an arthritic mouse. Watch this space.
(1) There are 9 Liberal Democrats out of the 96 councillors (85 Labour, one Independent). All these Lib Dems were elected in 2010, days before Nick Clegg did his deal with David Cameron. They all face a mildly-challenging re-election campaign next year.