In July 2013 the Environmental Strategy team (bureaucrats employed by Manchester Town Hall) promised councillors (and the public) that
“Cut car journeys to school, including 800 less cars travelling to school during competitions.”
And what did they achieve?
“We do not collate this information.”
How do we know? Certainly NOT because the Council released the information in a timely and easy-to-digest manner. In July 2014, despite repeated lobbying, they refused to release a report on what they actually achieved of the “Annual Carbon Reduction Plan 2013-4”. It was left to a group of Manchester citizens to submit Freedom of Information Act requests just to obtain basic information about what the Council had (not) done.
And this above is a pattern repeated – they didn’t even bother to collect information, since the promise was presumably just there to pad out the report. And did any of the councillors spot this, did any ask for follow-up? You know the answer to that one…
In February 2014 the Executive Member for the Environment (a local councillor who has become a member of the 9 councillor “inner core”) promised (among other things) that quarterly progress reports would be produced for the Council’s carbon reduction plans. (see image)
Last night (13th November) a few of us received an email from the Councillor currently in charge of environmental issues. He promised that the first quarterly report will happen by the end of November.
This promise is of course entirely unrelated to the election he is fighting next May, and the desire to not allow the Lib Dems or the Greens a stick to beat him with. Already Labour hacks are leaving comments on this blog lauding him, as if keeping a clear and quite old promise is something praiseworthy.
Frankly, I don’t care about these men (and women) and their ego games. I care about this city and its people and the impending ecological debacles. I care about how ready we (and not just the rich white people) can be. Quarterly reports will initially probably be full of bluster and evasions, strategic silences and shoddy statistics. Doubtless senior councillors will berate me for this opinion, but it is based on long previous experience of the Council’s climate documents)
But these quarterly reports, beefed up and fact-checked by independent eyes, are an important way for us to pressure councillors – and the bureaucrats – to do better.