Three weeks ago the politician in charge of climate change for Manchester City Council promised that quarterly progress reports would finally start to be released, “by the end of November.” Nope.
On November 13th, two weeks after Manchester Climate Monthly had started publishing daily examples of the Council’s broken climate promises, the Executive Member for Housing and Regeneration (1) Councillor Jeff Smith, wrote an email to several people. In it he promised that, “by the end of this month,” the first quarterly progress report would be up.
So, you can click on each of the menu items on the page he suggests. There’s a small amount of inaccurate and unhelpful information about the past. But the promised first quarterly plan? You’re having a laugh, son.
There is a chance that the report is lurking somewhere else on the Council’s website. We did a search with “climate change quarterly” and got back nothing except “State of the City” reports
No doubt the progress report will put up imminently. There will be a certain amount of scalded cat activity within the Town Hall over the coming hours and days.
Not good enough.
What we’ve learnt: 1) That even when you have a firm promise, and even when it comes from a politician who is trying to win a parliamentary seat at next May’s general election, then don’t expect anything. Promises from the City Council are not worth a bucket of warm spit.
2) That the Freedom of Information Act is the only reliable way to get information out of the Council. Even though its use has much higher cost implications for the council, this seems to be what they want citizens to do.
What you can do:
1) Remember this as an example of what you have to do as an activist. Extracting the promise is not enough. Extracting it twice is not enough.
2) Don’t get demoralised. We will eventually win. We – and circumstances – will force the Council to start behaving itself, to start acting sensibly. One way not to be demoralised is to be learning new skills, meeting new people who are taking action. On Monday 15th December, at 7pm, there’s the next meeting of the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Team, at Friends Meeting House, 6 Mount St. Free to attend, no need to book. At this meeting we will be helping people get better at public speaking and video-making. If you’re not interested in either of those, still come! If you can’t come, email email@example.com for other ways of getting involved.
3) If you’re interested in learning how to use the Freedom of Information Act, get in touch.
(1) The Executive Member for Environment, Kate Chappell, is on maternity leave. In February 2014 she committed the Council to producing quarterly progress reports. These did not, of course, happen, along with other simple, low-cost promises.