#Manchester Council and Carbon Literacy: Promised report awol, and breaches FoIA deadline

Manchester City Council is in breach of not one but TWO commitments to provide information about its own environmental performance.

Last September the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee the committee agreed to a proposal (from me) that a report on the successes/failures of the Council’s internal “carbon literacy”efforts be brought to the January 2015 meeting, (that happens today, 13th).

Here’s a screengrab of the agreement.*

recommendation6

Is it happening? NO. How could you be so naive as to think so?

nscjan15

Meanwhile, on December 3rd, the Council’s “information compliance” officer (who deals with Freedom of Information Act requests) sent this

Dear Mr Hudson

Re:     Request for Information – Reference No: CEX/9RGHDJ

Thank you for your request for information received by Manchester City Council on 3 December  2014.

Please note that it may take up to 20 working days (approximately 4 weeks) for the Council to consider your request and to provide a formal response.

There were 15 working days up to and including Christmas Eve.
There were 3 working days (29, 30, 31) up to and including New Years Eve.
There was then the 7 more days 2nd, 5th to 9th and 12th.

That’s 25 working days. Still no answer, to these basic questions –

given that the target for councillors having received both elements of
their carbon literacy training is 60, by the end of this calendar year,
please can you tell me, as of December 2nd 2014;

a) How many councillors have completed both their online and face-to-face
elements of carbon literacy training, and their names

b) how many councillors have only completed the online component and their
names

c) how many councillors have only completed the face to face component, and
their names

d) how many councillors have completed neither their face-to-face nor
online components, and their names

Please consider this a request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

* Their get out clause will be this – “The Committee endorse in principle the proposed amendments to the
recommendations of the Environmental Sustainability Sub-group, subject to discussions and agreement on final wording between the Chair, Mr Hudson and officers.”

I sent the following email on 3rd October to both the chair and a senior support officer-

Dear Councillor Curley,

as you’re no doubt aware, Economy Scrutiny Committee asked the Environmental Strategy Team to go away and re-do (again) the implementation plan that they brought to Neighbourhoods and Economy last week.

I for one am still keen to meet with you – as agreed last Tuesay [sic], 23rd September, to discuss the further recommendations that were put to Neighbourhoods and liked by the committee.

No reply

On the 21st October I sent this email to the chair, the same support officer, and one of my local councillors.

Dear Councillor Curley,

as you will no doubt remember, at the last NSC you kindly proposed to meet with me to further discuss the proposals for improving the implementation plan for the Environmental Sustainability Subgroup (additional proposals).

I welcomed that, with the proviso that this was SMART – specific, measurable, achievable and realistic time frame.

I wrote to you on October 3rd about when we would meet. Sadly I’ve not yet received a reply.

The minutes of the meeting, due for agreement today do not reflect this.

“The Chair accepted this and agreed that he would correspond with Mr Hudson and officers with a view to progressing the recommendations.”

There was not an agreement to “correspond” – there was an agreement to meet.

I would be happy to provide you with the relevant video footage from the September meeting if you feel my memory is not accurate.

No reply, but the minutes were changed to reflect reality.

On the 2nd December, I sent the following email.

Dear Councillor Curley,

at the September Neighourhoods Scrutiny meeting you agreed that you would meet with me to discuss how to take forward the recommendations in the “Scrutiny Mutiny” report produced by the People’s Environmental Scrutiny Team.

I sent you an email on October 21st reminding you of this, and questioning the minutes of the September meeting. These minutes were presumably, based on what you said to the october meeting, adjusted to reflect this.

I have not heard from you since on this matter.

However, I am writing to ask a different question;

will the December meeting of the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee include a discussion of the first “quarterly progress report” on the Climate Change Action Plan?

In February 2014 Kate Chappell promised that these would indeed be presented to Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee.

This finally drew a reply, the same day

Hi Marc

I agree we did say we would meet. Would you be kind enough to send me a
few dates for the get together.

Regards Basil

Sent from my iPad

It was clear to me from the utter chaos and debacle of the December NSC meeting (“Councillors fail to scrutinise the agenda, the budget or themselves“) that no useful function could be served, that time was now too short for a report to be produced, and the agenda would be full of the budget discussions that didn’t happen in December because of.. well… the NSC.

I submitted the FoIA, for all the good that has done.

So you have a situation where the Chair of a committee can ignore emails to follow-up an agreement. And, worse, you have a situation where none of the Councillors on the Neighbourhoods Committee has the eyes or spine to keep the horror that is “Carbon Literacy” training on the agenda.

This is Manchester. We do things differently here.

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About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
This entry was posted in Democratic deficit, Manchester City Council. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to #Manchester Council and Carbon Literacy: Promised report awol, and breaches FoIA deadline

  1. Try popping into the Jolly Angler, Ducie Street, especially early evening Thursdays, you should find a gaggle of them. Then there is Fridays in the City Arms, Kennedy Street (you may need a mortgage), that has also been a haunt for councillors and council white-collar workers.

  2. Sam Gunsch says:

    Is democracy a ‘wicked problem’ ?

    As I read here, and then mull over my own experience of the political stalling/evasion/dodginess in the multiple modes here in Alberta, Canada, including the all BS tactics you document above…

    Well… it just occurred to me: is it possible that the task of making democracy function in any polity may in fact be THE ‘wicked problem’ underlying all ‘wicked problems’.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problem

  3. Sam Gunsch says:

    FWIW

    My notion of democracy is a system of collective decision-making that puts the public good before private interest. This is, or so I’ve read, the classic definition of civic virtue.

    And any society that functions under a system of governance the mostly or entirely serves the interests of private interests is corporatist.

    Meaning of course the nations of the West have become corporatist societies where government and other groups negotiate public policy. Rather than parliaments (or city councils) where representatives of the citizenry consider public policy for the public good.

  4. Sam Gunsch says:

    Clarification by addition:

    ‘Meaning of course the nations of the West have become corporatist societies where government and other groups negotiate public policy.’

    Negotiate public policy: BASED on their INTERESTS as opposed to consideration and deliberation of the Public Good.

    e.g. Labour council members are content to avoid confronting and addressing/rectifying their failure to act on climate commitments because it serves their party’s interest of retaining power via the retention of support of interests served by the status quo non-climate policies.

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