Update: From an email just received – “Cllr Curley [chair of the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee] has further indicated that this will be considered as a substantive agenda item for consideration by the Committee at its meeting of 26 August.”
First the “good” news. Manchester City Council claims it has saved roughly 5 thousand tonnes of carbon dioxide in the last year.
But wait, as so often is the case with this Council, you have to read fine print. Referring to the decreased energy use within Manchester City Council buildings (the largest part of their emissions) they concede that it is due “to 2013/4 being a very mild winter alongside some building rationalisation.” (“Building rationalisation” is bureaucratic code for flogging off spare buildings).
In a“report” that is less than 3 pages long, there isn’t much else to look at. There is also an admission that emissions from flights have gone up. In true defensive mode the report pleads “actual miles travelled have decreased by 33%.” They COULD have reported on which flights were made, and to which destinations. But apparently they’re happier for citizens to have to use the Freedom of Information Act…
More damning is the fact that this is not an item for discussion, but merely “for information.” It seems that the elected members of the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee has decided that is is simply not interested in scrutinising the detail of the Council’s climate performance. This is just more evidence of the need for a dedicated Environmental Scrutiny Committee.
Meanwhile, the bureaucrats could have produced a detailed report on whether it has achieved the targets set in its Annual Carbon Reduction Plan of 2013 (which came to Neighbourhoods in July 2013, but never went to Executive).
They have simply chosen not to. So citizens can’t find out about whether LEDs went in at the Art Gallery, or voltage optimizers in four buildings, or an anaerobic digester did indeed go into Smithfield market and all the other “actions” they claimed they were going to take. Unless we use the Freedom of Information Act.
We can’t find out how many councillors are “carbon literate”. We can’t find out how many council employees are carbon literate. Unless we use the Freedom of Information Act.
We COULD have learnt this stuff if
a) The “Environmental Strategy” team released information in a timely and systematic way over the course of the year
b) Councillor Kate Chappell had bothered to keep her repeatedly-made promise to start blogging.
This, from a Council that claimed it understood the dangers of total one-party control.
What you can do
Save the date –
Monday 25th August. Tuesday 26th August. There will be the next meeting of the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee, held at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St, from 7pm.
Regardless of whether you can come, there are things that you can do before and after this meeting.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting involved.
There will also, starting tomorrow, be regular blog posts on Manchester Climate Monthly and a new website about what we, as citizens, can do