There’s a headline to lead the 6pm news, eh?
Manchester City Council has decided to change the name of its “Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee” to “Neighbourhoods and Environment,” with the change taking effect in May.
Neighbourhoods is one of six scrutiny committees that the council has. These are supposed to hold the 9 member executive and the senior officers to account. That’s a bit tricky given that there all 96 of the Council’s members are Labour. It’s especially tricky on climate change since so few of the councillors have even bothered to undertake the ‘Carbon Literacy’ training that everyone who lives, studies or works in Manchester was supposed to have had by 2013. The man who launched that program, aka the Leader of the Council, has not done the training himself and recently refused to commit to doing so anytime soon.
There was a proposal to actually have a seventh scrutiny committee, dedicated to our (growing) environmental problems. That proposal suffered three fatal flaws
- it didn’t come from inside the Town Hall
- it was entirely sensible
- it could end up resulting in genuine scrutiny of the Council’s appalling record and staggering incompetence and incapacity on environmental matters.
It sank without trace.
Instead, we have a re-badging of an existing unwieldy and consistently under-performing behemoth. The good news is it may force the next chair of the committee to pay more than zero attention (there are councillors who think Neighbourhoods should be about dogshit and street-lighting).
BUT, in the real world, this renaming means nothing without a sea-change in attitudes and knowledge by councillors, and a similar sea-change in behaviour of officers and Executive.
And those will not happen spontaneously. What would be needed is for ‘civil society’ to get its gameface on.
It won’t. We’re toast.