Democracy in Manchester – the grubby grubby reality

There is a “Manchester Leadership Forum”. Bet you didn’t know that, did you? But you can’t go to it, and when it runs workshops about creating a new “community strategy” those workshops are a) very poorly attended, and b) there are no minutes.

Oh, and how many members of the Leadership Forum got on it without having been ‘tapped on the shoulder’ by the Town Hall? Er, not a single one.

This is Manchester; we do things “differently” here.

Manchester City Council has six scrutiny committees. The meetings of those six committees are open to the public, and minuted (1). At the last Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee meeting a couple of councillors wanted to know more about this new “Manchester Leadership Forum.”

One of the members of the public who attended that meeting submitted a Freedom of Information Act request (2).  Her requests are in bold, what she got back is in italics

I attended Neighbourhood Scrutiny Committee today and was interested in the Manchester Leaders Forum. I looked on the Manchester City Council website and found a link to the members. However, the terms of reference page was “empty”

a) Could you please send me an electronic copy of the terms of reference (and perhaps ensure that a copy also goes on the Manchester partnership website)

The terms of reference for the Manchester Leaders Forum are available on the Manchester Partnership website at the following link:

This link has been tested as working on Thursday 2 October 2014. Please accept my apologies that at the time you tried to access the terms of reference the link had broken and the attachment was unavailable. I am also attaching an electronic copy of the terms of reference with this letter.

b) Could you please supply a copy of the invite list for the workshop on Monday 22nd September

All members of the Manchester Leaders Forum were invited to attend the Manchester Strategy discussion session on Monday 22 September. In addition to the Leaders Forum members, a small number of additional invitations were extended to external speakers and partners.

c) Could you please provide, when available, a copy of the minutes of the meeting of Monday 22nd September, which – presumably – will include a list of those who attended, those who sent their apologies, and those who neither attended or sent apologies

The Manchester Strategy discussion session on Monday 22 September was the first of three sessions for Manchester Leaders Forum members to discuss the emerging themes of the Manchester Strategy, which will replace the Community Strategy in 2015. The outcomes of the session will inform the design of the strategy, but as it was not a formal meeting there are no formal minutes. It was also not compulsory for all Leaders Forum members to attend this session. Members have been invited to attend as many of the Manchester Strategy discussion sessions as they are able to and have a particular interest in.

As this was a discussion session arranged on a workshop format there are no formal minutes of the meeting. I have however provided a list below of those members of the Manchester Leaders Forum members who attended, sent apologies, and who neither attended or sent apologies:

Attended: Ann Clynch, Gavin Elliot, Ruairidh Jackson, Phil Korbel, Yasmina Lee, Dean of Manchester, Cllr Bernard Priest, Elaine Unegbu, Mike Wild, Sue Woodward.

Apologies sent: Maria Balshaw, Sir Howard Bernstein, John Brooks, Atiha Chaudry, Lou Cordwell, Mike Deegan, Andrew Fender, Lorraine Gradwell, Sir Richard Leese, Mike Livingstone, Tony Lloyd, Paul Martin, John McNerney, Clive Memmott, Michelle Moran, Cllr Sue Murphy, Charlie Norman, Chris Oglesby, Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell, Phil Royle, Michelle Saidi, Michele Scattergood, Bill Tamkin, John Thornhill, Martin Whiting, Nigel Wilson

Neither attended nor sent apologies: Nick Adderley, Mike Blackburn, Rod Coombs, Scott Fletcher, Mike Ingall, Priscilla Nkwenti

[Given how poor attendance was, perhaps someone would like to follow-up with a question about precisely when the invites were sent out?  There is a nasty habit of giving people about a week’s notice for these sorts of meetings…]

d) Finally, could you let me know how many nominations were received for membership of the Forum, and the date nominations closed.

Nominations for the Manchester Leaders Forum were received from all of the partnership boards invited to nominate. Details of the partnerships invited to nominate by sector are available within the report ‘Item 6 – Manchester Partnership – Review of the Manchester Board’ to the Council’s Executive on 18 December 2014. This report is available to download at:

This link has been tested as working on Thursday 2 October 2014. The closing date for nominations was 31 March 2014.

In addition to these nominations there was also an open invitation for applications to join the Manchester Leaders Forum, advertised on the Manchester Partnership website between Monday 17 March and Monday 7 April 2014. No applications for membership were received through this route.

So, they put up a blog post for three weeks. They appear to have done precisely no further advertising of the fact that people from outside the charmed circle could get on the Forum. This is Manchester, we do things “differently” here.

Monday 17th November will mark 5 years since the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan became official council policy.  It will mark the half way point to the 2020 goals.  There is a meeting of the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Team, at which we will be mingling, skill-sharing and discussing “what is a low carbon culture”.

The meeting is free, you don’t need to book.  Just bring yourself, your ideas and enthusiasm, and any friends you think will be interested. 7pm at the Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St. The offer extends to councillors who actually care about climate change (which includes many, but not all of them).


(1) With all the usual caveats about how accurately those minutes reflect what was said/agreed. The meetings are not yet filmed, though Birmingham City Council has no problem in filming all of ITS meetings.

(2) That’s free to do, and all you do is write to with your questions [keep them specific!], including your name and address and saying at the bottom ‘please consider this a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000).

About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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