UPDATE: This story has been amended to include facts that I should have checked. Apologies to the Chair of the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee. I will leave an apology on the blog that the Executive Member for the Environment promised to set up.
The history of Manchester City Council’s reporting on its endlessly broken climate promises is one of spin, evasion and delay. For the last five years they have shifted baselines, played with statistics and simply not reported on their failure to complete promised actions.
The latest example of this shameful behavior has played out over the last few days. In March the councillors on the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee were told that a full report about the Council’s so-called “Climate Change Action Plan” would be brought to the July meeting. It is, of course, now being brought to a meeting at the end of September.
Green Party activist Joseph Clough wrote a letter to Councillor Daniel Gillard, the new chair of the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee, one of six that is supposed to keep tabs on the Council bosses.
Dear Councillor Gillard
In the “Manchester City Council Climate Change Action Plan 2015/16 to 2017/18 ” report, presented in the March 2015 Neighbourhood Scrutiny committee, it was stated that the following information would be provided in the July 2015 Neighboroughood Scrutiny committee meeting:
1) Actual data for the council’s 2014/2015 Carbon Dioxide emissions.
2)”MCC Estate Transformation: asset rationalisation ” progress report.
3) “MCC Estate Transformation: building management and improvement works ” progress report.
4) A progress report on “Support Eastland Leisure Trust and Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL) to deliver environmental plans which set CO2 saving targets and identify priority energy savings for the buildings under their management ”
Further to this, it was stated that “A staff travel survey was undertaken in Q3 2014/15. Detailed analysis of the results including carbon implication will be available in summer 2015. ”
The provision of the above information does not appear to be on the agenda for the July 2015 Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee meeting. I would like to know why this is, and if the information could please be provided at the meeting.
It was pointed out to him that the latest ‘Overview Report’ contains the following –
No explanation, no apology. See below
The irony is that the March 2015 report was itself a month late.
This is just how the Council Executive and bureaucracy roll – no sense of urgency, contempt for the populace and contempt for its own (non-existent) credibility.
The Council DID offer an explanation for the delay. This story was based on a facebook post by Joseph Clough, and my own long long experience of the council’s spinning and delay. After publishing (not before, like a proper journalist would have done) I wrote to Joseph- who said that a ‘semi-explanation’ was offered.
Councillor Gillard, the new chair of the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny wrote to me as follows –
Yes absolutely, the Council promised July, and now it’s going to be September, as the September meeting is going to be a dedicated day on Climate Change and Environmental items. Moving the item was my idea 🙂
The questions Joseph sent in have been passed onto Kate Chappell and Jessica Bowles, by me. I asked Joseph if he wanted his questions treated as an FOI request, or as an informal request. He chose informal. The email exchange we had was yesterday, at around 4:30pm until 5pm, so I imagine Monday morning is when the gears will get into motion at the Council. I’ll be keeping an eye out and requesting updates on the progress of answering his questions.
No ifs, no buts, MCFly got it wrong. The meeting in late September MAY mark an extremely overdue change in the quality of the scrutiny that the councillors give to climate change issues. Then again it may just be another piece of political theatre like the Economy Scrutiny meetings last year where some councillors vehemently stated their unhappiness with the slow progress on the Environmental Sustainability Subgroup recommendations (that subgroup came out of a meeting held by Economy Scrutiny in … 2012) and then… rolled over.
The crucial thing is this – citizens of Manchester have to be there, do the work and check their facts before publishing. This is far too important to leave to elected councillors who have had, to date, a fairly dire record on holding the Executive and the senior officers to account.