Councillor Bernard Priest, one of the two deputy leaders of Manchester City Council, has stated that the Council needs to look again at how it monitors its environmental actions. Responding to the proposal of a seventh scrutiny committee to sit alongside the existing six, he stated
“…What is clear is that we have to come up with a way of making sure that we focus our attention on [environmental issues], which we have decided is a priority.”
He conceded that the Council is ” like everybody else; we’re capable of saying ‘let’s look at this distracting, interesting problem we know we can solve, rather than this big important problem that we’re not sure how to solve.’”
At 7pm on Tuesday 26th August, the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Committee will meet at Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St. Attendance is free, and there’s no need to book. More information can be found at environmentalscrutiny.info
The full interview can be heard here, transcript below.
On the question whether and how Manchester City Council can be focusing its attention on environmental issues. How and why and what?
You’ve proposed that we have a seventh scrutiny committee that focuses on environmental issues, and I can see why you’ve proposed that. I’m not sure that is necessarily the solution, but what is clear is that we have to come up with a way of making sure that we focus our attention on this issue, which we have decided is a priority. If it is a priority for us, we have to have a way of focusing our attention effectively upon it. I don’t think we’ve yet got that fully in place. So you’re right to raise the issue. You’ve proposed a solution which might not be the only option; we’ll have to look at other options. But the question you’ve raised is the right one.
What would you like to see people in Manchester doing to focus their own attention, their council’s attention, their school’s attention, their trade union’s attention on “environmental challenges”, broadly understood?
Not one thing; there’s a great many things. I think in every context, whether its a school, or a community group, or a family, we have to constantly remind ourselves that we live in an environment, we live an environment that is not capable of withstanding six or seven billion human beings without us being careful about it. We have to nurture our environment, not abuse it. We’ve got to keep reminding ourselves about that [because] it is easier to put into the back of your mind sometimes. Because it raises really big issues about how we should travel, how we should feed ourselves. And those issues are uncomfortable, but we’ve got to keep focusing our attention on it. It should be on the national curriculum, schools should address the issue as a major item of the curriculum. And a council like ours has got to find a way of keeping reminding ourselves that it’s one of our priorities. Because it is one of our priorities, but we’re like everybody else; we’re capable of saying “let’s look at this distracting, interesting problem we know we can solve, rather than this big important problem that we’re not sure how to solve.”
Thank you. Anything else you’d like to say?
Thanks for the coffee.