[UPDATE 11th September; there is now an online petition about having a public consultation on this £14.5 million. You can see (and sign) it here on Manchester City Council’s website.]
Yeah, you read that right. On Wednesday September 11th the Executive (top 8 councillors) of Manchester City Council will be discussing a report on the “Clean and Green Places Initiative” (scroll to the end of the article for the full report).
Thanks to Manchester Airports Group (35%-owned by the Council) snaffling Stansted, and a bigger than anticipated dividend, the Council has more money than it expected. But it’s only fourteen and a half million pounds, so there are Tough Decisions to be made.
Re-open libraries? Don’t be silly. Daycare centres? Please don’t be silly. Alleviate council tax burdens on the most vulnerable? Look, for the last time, don’t be silly. A new and properly-implemented-this-time Carbon Reduction and Innovation Fund? That’s crazy talk.
Manchester’s branding matters more. After all, we have it on good authority that “in a globalised world, we are what people think we are – reputation is the only thing that matters“. According to the report – which will be discussed by Executive at around 11,15am-ish in Committee Room 11 of the Town Hall- and we’ve added emphasis;
“Perceptions of the City and how it is managed are very much informed by the cleanliness of the local environment and how it is managed. It is important that residents have pride in their city and the impression that good management of the physical environment leaves with visitors, particularly to the City Centre, District Centres, and other parts of the City, is vital to the aspirations for Manchester as a global city. Therefore there needs to be an emphasis on getting the basics right for effective neighbourhood management.”
What does this mean in practice (again, emphasis added)
There is a need to ensure flexibility in how the funding can be used but the investment could range from:
• one-off interventions and investment that improve street cleanliness,improve recycling and that improve the quality of the City’s public realm and parks
• one-off interventions to support more robust environmental enforcement
• local interventions to improve the physical environment and that support the drive for growth and make more neighbourhoods desirable for working families.
• implementing proposals for behaviour change and community ownership at neighbourhood level so that the improvements achieved are continued when the funding ends.
Fourteen million quid is, of course, quite a lot of money, so there will be the usual scrutiny –
“Recommendations for the use of the fund will be made at Executive Member level against the above criteria [of “visibility,” “speed of implementation,” “sustainability” and “community involvement.”] To ensure there is appropriate scrutiny it is recommended that sign off of the proposals for the use of the fund will be made by the City Treasurer in consultation with the Chief Executive and the Executive Member for Finance and Human Resources. Any decisions that are key decisions or will involve the commitment of capital expenditure will follow the appropriate process.”
I am sure all those people who are now even poorer than they were before the Coalition government started dismantling the welfare state will be happy that they can be destitute in a cleaner, “greener” and more visitor-friendly city.
PS Here’s the report in full. It hasn’t, to my knowledge, been to any of the Council’s six scrutiny committees. Talk about Executive Decisions…
UPDATE 10.35 am, 9/9/13: An extremely efficient and helpful Council officer* has explained “The key decision on the setting up of the fund has to be taken by the full Council. All Councillors will be able to consider it and express their views on this proposal at the Council meeting.” [The next Council meeting is on Weds 9th October.]
* That’s not sarcasm!