A group set up to advance Manchester’s climate goals has failed to even bid for money to keep itself afloat. Meanwhile, it seems that the City Council, losing patience, has cut its support from two years to one…
Once upon a time Manchester City Council worked with “stakeholders” to create a Climate Change Action Plan. This was back in the giddy days before the 2009 Copenhagen Climate conference. A Plan was duly produced, that included a 41% reduction target in emissions for the whole city, and the creation of a ‘low carbon culture’ (neither is happening). In order to mobilise the populace and stop the Plan from being seen as Just Another Council Edict, a ‘Steering Group’ was created. Elections were to be held (they weren’t). Conferences were to be held (some crap ones were cobbled together, then that got cancelled). Action Was To Happen – it didn’t.
The Steering Group, catchily known as the ‘MACF Stakeholder Steering Group’ never allowed anyone who wasn’t a member to attend, even to observe, #democracyfail. The meetings were by all accounts tedious, demoralising and appallingly run. So far, so predictable. It quickly became apparent, even to its own membership that the Group had become a ‘stab vest’ – a nice way for the Council to be able to deflect questions about Manchester’s lack of progress towards any of its climate goals.
Fast-forward a few years – Earlier this year the MACF spun itself off as a ‘Community Interest Company’ (only one of those three words is accurate, given that nobody in the community is interested in MACF), and announced that it would be making bids to put itself on a ‘firm financial footing’. There was a big pot of European money they had their eye on, for example…
Well, informed sources tell MCFly that the Steering Group didn’t even submit a bid for it, to the dismay of people who helped them put together a (kind of) case. Meanwhile, the City Council has apparently lost patience and has pulled the second of two years of financial support.
Intrigued, MCFly sent the steering group’s head the following
1. As you correctly note MACF’s future will rely on gaining 3rd Party funding, so we’re currently spending a lot of time identifying bidding opportunities & preparing funding applications. Self-evidently part of this process is identifying opportunities where we think we might actually be successful rather than simply going after every available source of funding. Given that as a standalone entity MACF doesn’t have any track record of bidding for funding, our initial focus is bidding in partnership with other organisations who do have a successful track record of bidding to various funding bodies, including the EU.
2. There is an ongoing discussion with the Council about how they can best support MACF in its transition to becoming a standalone, independently funded entity. That being the case, I’d rather not comment on the specifics / ups & downs of that discussion at the moment.
On the first answer – well, that’s fascinating. It raises the question of why after six years of ‘activity’ the MACF needs to band together with someone else to borrow their credibility to get some dosh. It also raises the question of why those groups would be willing to share their credibility. I mean, (almost) everybody knows that MACF is a massive reputational risk. Why chain yourself to a corpse, even if it is still sort of breathing?
On the second, well readers can probably read between the lines. MCFly has also sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the City Council, asking just how much money they poured into this worse-than-useless group in 2014 and 2015, if they’ve partly pulled the plug, and if so, why. [Why a FOIA? Because experience tells us that a straightforward requests that aren’t official and bureaucratic tend to ‘get lost’…] When we know, we’ll let you know.
When the MACF Stakeholder Steering Group Community Interest Company (it takes you longer to say its name than it would to list its accomplishments over the last 6 years) does finally die, presumably some time in 2016, it will join other unlamented corpses in the graveyard of Manchester’s institutional response to climate change (‘Foundation’, the offset company, anyone). Good riddance.
If and when there is a genuine ‘refresh’ in climate activity (and next year’s farcical ‘consultation’ does not count), hopefully people will learn some lessons about trust and verification. Meanwhile, the carbon accumulates, despite any fine Parisian palaver.