Manchester City Council has spent roughly seventy thousand pounds supporting a group that can’t even organise its own website, submit grant applications and will not allow councillors attend its meetings. The “Stakeholder Steering Group“, (also known as “MACF”) for the Manchester Climate Change Action Plan was set up in 2010 to be a critical friend to the Council and to mobilise Manchester’s citizenry in pursuit of emissions reductions and a ‘low carbon culture’. The last five years has been a litany of failure to be critical, failure to be a real friend, and most of all failure to mobilise people and organisations.
A Freedom of Information Act request (fulfilled on time, for once -see below for full text), reveals that in the last two years the Council has thrown 47 thousand pounds in cash at the group. Since August 2015 two staff have been seconded to the group (1.8 Full Time Equivalent). That would amount to roughly twenty to twenty five thousand pounds. This extra support coincides with the Steering Group becoming a “Community Interest Company”.
The answer to the FOIA also states that “no change has been made to the amount of financial resources promised to the MACF group. Decisions about resources for 2016/17 will be determined as part of the MCC budget setting process.”
On that, well, watch this space. People in Manchester, who expected the Council to take action, will be interested to see
a) if the repeated failure of the Steering Group is further rewarded.
b) whether the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee will do its job. You know, scrutiny.
Finally, it emerge the employees seconded to this company will return to the Council at the end of their secondment.
A recap for those who are new to this.
The Steering Group went from small to absurdly large and back to small. It has never allowed ‘stakeholders’ – even elected councillors – to attend its meetings. Although the Climate Change Action Plan called for elections to the Steering Group, these were never held. In 2014, the new chair of the group cancelled the annual stakeholder conference, replacing it with a set-piece Annual General Meeting. (Because Manchester doesn’t have enough opportunities for semi-interested people to sit in rows listening to the ‘experts’ tell them how things are more or less on track and then go home).
Recently the Group failed to submit a bid for a large pot of EU money. It would be fascinating to know the ratio between requests for letters of support from relevant Manchester organisations requested to the number received.
This is a painful and embarrassing farce, that should be ended, for the benefit of everyone’s morale and reputation.
The Freedom of Information request response.
Thank you for your request for information, which was received by Manchester City Council on 12th December 2015. The Council has considered the information requested and as the subject matter is in relation to Carbon Reduction, the Council is satisfied that it falls within the broad definition of “environmental information” in the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR). The Council has therefore considered your request for information under the provisions of the EIR.
I set out below your request for information:
The amount of financial resources given by Manchester City Council to the “Manchester A Certain Future” group since 1st January 2014, broken down by calendar year
2015 to date: £22,150.89
The amount of other resources (specifically staff secondment) given by Manchester City Council to the “Manchester A Certain Future” group since 1st January 2014, broken down by calendar year
2015: 1.8 FTE (full time equivalent) from 1st August 2015 to date
Any change to the amount of financial resources promised to the MACF group – specifically, has the amount of financial support offered been reduced from two years to one year.
No change has been made. Decisions about resources for 2016/17 will be determined as part of the MCC budget setting process.
The future employment status of the individuals seconded to MACF – do they return to being MCC employment, or is their employment with MCC terminated?
The employees return to MCC at the end of the secondment.
If you are not satisfied with this response you may ask for an internal review. If you wish to complain you should contact the Information Governance Manager, whose address is Democratic Services, Town Hall, Albert Square, Manchester, M60 2LA and email email@example.com
If you are not content with the outcome of the internal review, you have the right to apply directly to the Information Commissioner for a decision.
The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner’s Office