#Manchester Scrutiny Week – On #climate – why flog a brain-dead horse?

So below you will find a list of the agendas of the so-called “Scrutiny” committees of Manchester City Council.  These committees, made up of ‘back-bench’ councillors (all Labour, of course) are supposed to keep tabs on Manchester City Council’s executive (the 9 member group made up of councillors) and top bureaucrats.  They largely don’t. They act either as a cringe-worthy rubber-stamp or a toothless watchdog.  Thanks to careerism, complacency and contempt-from-above, they are a hollow simulacrum of what democracy and accountability are supposed to be about. This has had, and will continue to have, awful consequences for the people of Manchester, and for future generations.

Specifically on climate change, we have a series of broken promises, so-called “consultations” where the claim that “hundreds” of people have been consulted turns out to be flat wrong.  We have a target of getting 60 of the 96 councillors carbon literate in 2014 versus an achievement of… 23.  We have endless good ideas put forward by the less powerful simply ignored, probably because if the Council had to start listening to other people’s good ideas, they’d quickly lose their ability to keep awkward truths off the agenda. And that might spoil the nice ‘open for Business’ story.   Will it get better or worse with DevoManc?  Well, given the habits of thought and action of BOTH our political class and the so-called oppositional activists, it will get much much worse. Before it gets… worse.

neighbourhoodsagendaThere was a time Manchester Climate Monthly would have closely reported on the Council’s climate plans.   Below are some simple facts that explains why we won’t bother any more.  (And we wouldn’t be able to, anyway, because even after it is legally obliged to put up the report it has, as of 0925 on Thursday 5th March, STILL NOT PUT UP THE PLAN!!!  (And the £30k non-consulted Green Infrastructure Plan is still “draft”!!!)) [Update March 5th, 12.11. I sent this post to the (ir)Relevant Authorities. And, as if by magic, the plan is now up.  Who says democracy doesn’t work…]

a) Moving to a “3 year plan” with annual updates was supposed to streamline things. Well, the report on 2014-5 was supposed to be presented in February. But it’s happening in March. This sort of thing will become routine, now that the Environmental Strategy Team is being abolished

b) Quarterly progress reports were promised in February 2014. They have not happened. When an emissions statement prised out of the Council in November last year showed that the Council’s emissions are going up not down, the response of the Neighbourhoods “Scrutiny” Committee, was … utter silence.

c) The Executive Member for the Environment said she would set up a blog to keep people informed. She hasn’t done that.

The list could go on and on and on. Basically,

a) Taking these empty words seriously lends them credibility and dignity they have never earned

b) the Council has not the desire or the ability to deliver on its existing promises.  There is no point monitoring those promises, and certainly no point in trying to get it to make new ones. Why flog a brain-dead horse?


Tuesday 10th March

Young People and Children’s

10am The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension




2pm The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension



Wednesday 11th March


10am The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension




2pm The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension



Thursday 12th March


10am The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension




2pm The Scrutiny Committee Room, Level 2, Town Hall Extension




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.

2 Responses to #Manchester Scrutiny Week – On #climate – why flog a brain-dead horse?

  1. Kate Gilmartin says:

    Hi Marc,

    It would be good to have your thoughts and tips on how to follow up from the ‘Powering Up North’ event? I initially set out to instigate the event (Copy-cat of the excellent ”Powering up” I attended in Oxford – they have a “ low carbon hub” that actually does stuff, including getting interest free loans for local community hydro groups – fancy that!) to inform and educate the Local Councils about the potential (Carbon and social justice etc) of community energy. We had a great turn out, about 230 people, about 40 from Local authorities, but only 1 from MCC and 1 from AGMA. This had been widely publicised, but the agenda is just not of interest to them…..

    However, the event was really good and as it was for “ The North” it was great to be able to speak to the people who are creating pockets of action springing up all over. I think grass roots action will eventually percolate into the collective mind set of the LA – but the areas where community energy have really taken off (Bath, Bristol & Oxford) they have the political will and support to encourage it!

    Any ideas…?!!

    Many thanks,


    • I am not surprised about the absence of MCC and AGMA, and you shouldn’t take it personally. They just do not rate local action (they run endless pilot projects, but when they had 15m quid ear-marked for ‘green’ projects, they didn’t spend half of it. They do NOT want a thriving independent sector. They want to be able to pal around with the Siemenses and Googles of the world, on big shiny showcase projects. There are historical and cultural reasons for this.

      On your specific question – it’s the long slow process of network weaving, of knowing who the ‘useful’ nodes are, the people who know things, who know and are trusted/liked by other people, and who get things done. It’s about creating the conditions for genuine networking and connection. This sounds airy-fairy, but there are some very concrete consequences/imperatives. Buy me a pint or three and I will be more specific.

      On a practical note – are all the presentations from the Powering Up North now up on a website, along with a video about what happened on the day, and has that been sent in an email to all who attended and those who registered but didn’t come?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s