Manchester City Council is disbanding its “Environmental Strategy Team. The spin – and I hope you are sitting down and not eating anything that you might choke on as you read this – is that environmental thinking is now embedded throughout the council, so the EST’s individual members can be sent out to continue the good work.
It does not appear that the Neighbourhoods “Scrutiny” Committee, which is supposed to keep tabs on all matters environmental was informed, let along formally consulted. That’s just how the bosses roll…
We’ve asked the Relevant Authority for a statement about who
“will be overseeing the Council’s various environmental strategies such as
a) the Biodiversity Action Plan, which expires in 2016. Will there be another one?
b) the new “Green and Blue Strategy” – who will oversee that?
and, of course
c) the Low Carbon Plan with its 2020 targets.
Who will be producing reports that are presented to Scrutiny Committees and who will be producing the Quarterly progress reports on the Council’s Carbon Reduction Plan 2014-17”
However, given how long it is taking to get basic information (even when you use the Freedom of Information Act – to which the council is legally obliged to respond within 20 working days), MCFly felt that waiting for the answer might mean we didn’t publishing before February… 2016.
MCFly says: this really is no great loss, given the extremely low quality output from this outfit. If you take a long view, it might even be beneficial, in that new talent might now be attracted to come and work on environmental issues in Manchester without the fear that they are would be stuck under a level of crusted on bureaucracy. That said, the REAL long view is that “devolution” is coming, and that lots of decisions are going to be pushed up to the even-less-accountable Greater Manchester level. In that process, lots of awkward promises (“low carbon culture” for instance) will be forgotten/airbrushed out of history.
We’re toast, basically, with the stay-or-go of the Environmental Strategy Team an amusing irrelevance.
I came across Lisa Lingard profile on Linkedin, which I thought interesting, maybe you should be asking her questions? Another council official who does not live in Manchester or even come from Manchester. So how can she have any real knowledge of Manchester, other than what she has been told or read?
Principal Environmental Strategy Officer
Manchester City Council
October 2003 – Present (11 years 4 months)
Recently qualified in PRINCE 2 Practicioner ; I have led lots of exciting project recently – including co-writing the Council’s Carbon Literacy Programe for staff, and leading on the Sustainable Procurement Policy and Sustainable Consumption & Production. I’m looking forward to getting to grips with embedded emissions – did you know that our food emissions account for around 20% of our carbon footprint? food for thought. .
Pretty sure she is still off on maternity leave, but I could be wrong.
Frankly, a) they’re not going to tell me anything
b) there’s nothing to tell. These people are of varying intelligence and commitment, but ultimately they could all be a cross between Albert Einstein and the little engine that could and it really wouldn’t matter. There are “blocking coalitions” higher up the food chain, you feel me?
And no politicians who seem capable of doing what is needed…
A democracy audit is in order.
Call the auditors!
Here are the international leaders, IMO, in democratic auditing.
Like you need anything more on your plate, but maybe someone affiliated with this outfit is in need of case study on municipal governance re primarily accountability, with this enviro/climate file as the focus.
PEST and this blog have probably done most of the documenting necessary to make it easy for someone to start an audit of Council’s performance.
They’d be obligated to try to interview the councillors and bureaucrats of course. If anyone could get council to talk?
But at leats they’ve got the huge start from having the perspective of the most engaged citizenry on the record. Easy to get going.
Maybe a group of masters students could take it on as term project for credit?
D-I-Y democratic audit method here that would be applied:
Beetham and Weir, from Democratic Audit, originated that framework back in the 1990’s.
It’s evolved some but foundations haven’t changed.
But of course I know you are hugely busy.
Just offering my usual blue-skying.\
Or… Maybe PEST could undertake a pure democracy audit to its analysis?
Clarification: IDEA uses the term democracy assessment, but I continue to think of its essence which is an audit, and mostly because I read and then had to buy this work by Weir and Beetham.
I think it`s a classic, FWIW.
Political Power and Democratic Control in Britain: The Democratic Audit of the United Kingdom
Anyways, below is the IDEA framework explained in short:
Explaining the Method
‘How democratic is our country and its government?’
There are many ways to answer this question. The International IDEA framework takes a particular approach that marks it out from other approaches to democracy assessment and measurement.
The assessment process must be locally led and owned
It is flexible, and can be used as a whole, in part, or targeted at specific priority areas
It is guided by the two democratic principles: popular control over decision-making and equality among citizens in the exercise of that control
It works in tune with the mediating values of participation, authorization, representation, accountability, transparency, responsiveness and solidarity
It links democratic principles and mediating values with institutions and processes and assesses formal institutions against practice
It is universally applicable and can be applied in any democracy, regardless of its level of economic development
It is reform-oriented and aims at informing the public debate and the reform agenda
The Framework can be used to review and reform all aspects of local and national government including the rule of law, access to justice, civil and political rights, citizenship, elections, political parties, police, the military , the media and political participation.
Yep, we should do that. Trouble is, who is “we”? …. Just not enough people who give a damn, or think that anything can be changed…
“or think that anything can be changed…”
This is the key challenge. Over here, anyways.
IMO, most citizens who give a damn, seem to have watched politics long enough to believe you can’t fight City Hall, as the old cliche goes.
The climate movement over here skews young.
Not jaded yet. Angry, cynical but not jaded.
Jaded: In this sense: http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=jaded
The end result of having a steady flow of negative experiences, disappointment, and unfulfillment fed into a person where they get to the point where their anger circuits just sort of burn out and they accept disillusionment.
“The guy just sort of gave up on relationships. Jaded bastard.”
by Antonio Andolini July 14, 2003
I fight my own tendency to give in to jadedness pretty much most days.
well said. We have learned failure…
I had a vaccination, 30 years ago, which makes me immune from the stupidity of Manchester City Council.