Manchester City Council will NOT be giving any detailed account about its climate change performance over the last year, despite repeated requests.
In July 2013 the “Annual Carbon Reduction Plan” was brought to the “Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee” (this of the 6 scrutiny committees, made up of “back-bench” councillors, that are supposed to keep tabs on what the bureaucrats and elite councillors are up to.) The spin was that there had been a 7% reduction in emissions in the previous year. The grubby reality, admitted after intense questioning, was that emissions had gone UP by 1.8%.
The 2013-4 plan listed a long series of actions that were scheduled for the coming year. (1) We – councillors and citizens of Manchester alike – are now not going to be able to easily find out which (if any) of these actions has been completed in the last year because, according to a letter sent to Manchester Climate Monthly, the Council doesn’t “have data or information to report against each element of the plan.”
The actions – which include items such as energy efficiency improvements in the Art Gallery, Leisure centre improvements and the like – are the sort of detailed steps that are needed not just to reduce carbon emissions, but also to create the often-talked about “low carbon culture.” The fact that elected councillors, who last year called for quarterly progess reports, will not be able to find out what has and hasn’t been achieved in the last 12 months, reduces the existing scrutiny process to a comical farce.
The Council, in a very brief and initially buried report, claimed a seven percent reduction in its carbon emissions. That brief report ignored the fact that the long-touted goal of a 20% reduction by 2014 had been missed. More seriously, it conceded that the very mild winter, and “building rationalisation” (i.e. the sell-off of surplus buildings) were responsible or the reduction in emissions.
What you can do:
You can write to Councillor Chappell explaining that this is not how an open and transparent Council behaves. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org If you live within Manchester, please cc in your three ward councillors (you can find them via this page on council’s website).
You can contact Manchester Climate Monthly (email@example.com) about further steps to take (here’s a chance for you to learn how to use the Freedom of Information Act!
Please “save the date” – Tuesday 26th August, 7pm. There’s a meeting at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St in the City Centre
Below is the full text of the letter received by Manchester Climate Monthly from the Executive Member for the Environment Kate Chappell. Perhaps she can give a further account on her blog, which she has repeatedly promised to set up.
I’ve spoken to Basil and the officers involved.
Since adopting the new 3-Year Carbon Reduction Plan in February of this year, our intention has been to report on progress annually in March of each year. This is a change from the reporting cycle for previous 1-Year Plans where we provided annual reports in July.
Some data which is relevant to monitoring the Plan doesn’t get released until June of the following year so our intention is to issue this as soon as it becomes available. This was the content of the Report for Information at last Neighbourhoods Scrutiny.
As we are four months into a twelve month reporting cycle, we don’t have data or information to report against each element of the plan. We have set this up so it will be available and reported on in March 2015.
In order to provide some more detail, however, we have agreed with Cllr Curley that we extend the existing report to highlight to the committee any elements of the plan which we can already anticipate we may have problems with by year-end, and similarly those where progress has exceeded our expectation.
Hope this helps,
(1) In all previous years the “Annual Carbon Reduction Plan” had then gone from the Scrutiny Committee to the Executive. Last year – with no explanation – this did not happen.