Comically inept #Manchester Steering Group has no energy chair #climate #farce 

Over five working days ago, the Steering Group promised imminent answers to questions that it had “not” ignored.  Of course, those answers have not arrived.  It’s like Waiting for Godot, with all of Beckett’s bleakness, but none of his intelligence.

Why no reply? It would be comforting to believe that the cause was either some calculation that the release of embarrassing information before the local elections might hurt Labour’s chances.  But conspiracies require competence… And anyway, the voters of Manchester just do not care about climate change – it’s a non-issue.

It might be due to antipathy to democracy and transparency.   This is a group, after all, that never held the elections it said it would, that cancelled the stakeholder conference and replaced it with an “AGM” where they make promises that they then don’t keep, and  holds meetings the public (aka “Stakeholders”)  are forbidden to attend.   It might be they just don’t like Manchester Climate Monthly. Again, this requires competence.

The most likely, bitter, truth is this.  The Steering Group’s failure to reply is down to the characteristic that has marked its whole sorry six years – a mind-boggling, heart-breaking incompetence, at a cosmically comic level.

While we are waiting for the eventual delivery of the much-promised information, let’s do a little case study of their incompetence, drawing on the official minutes.

Let’s talk about energy, a mildly important subject when you’re talking about climate change.

Let’s start at the 17th September2015 meeting.  ( This, by the way, was the third consecutive meeting to which Kate Chappell, Executive Member for the Environment of Manchester City Council, sent her apologies) .

A brief update explains

“Energy lead/chair position is still vacant. JS has been talking to Arup and Electricity Northwest. The subject lends itself to large infrastructure projects but will also include smaller, e.g. PV and community projects, which might be the basis of new activities than an energy group could initiate and oversee. To revisit as part of work to develop pipeline of MACF projects. In the meantime JS to invite Julian Packer, GMCA Low Carbon Investment Director to next meeting.”

So, they’re not actually going to think about ‘hmm, why can’t we attract any talented people to fill this slot. What should we do?’  That, after all, would require reflexivity and a long hard look at the Steering Group’s track record, future prospects, and the reputational risk it is to anyone who comes near it.  Nope, easier to invite an external.

But what’s this?  For the 22nd October 2015 meeting (which Kate Chappell, Executive Member for the Environment of Manchester City Council, sent her apologies)  the minutes tell us

Apologies were received from Jessica Bowles and Julian Packer so the items on ‘Greater Manchester Devolution update & discussion’ and ‘Greater Manchester Low Carbon Energy update & discussion’ are deferred to the November meeting.

So, we don’t actually have the minutes of the 19th November meeting, because they haven’t been posted by the Steering Group (sooooo interested in transparency.) (or because they don’t actually exist, and are just contained in the January meeting?  If so, how incompetent is that?!)

But from the January 2016 meeting (which Kate Chappell, Executive Member for the Environment of Manchester City Council, sent her apologies)  we learn this

Minutes of November Meeting

Apologies were received from Jessica Bowles and Julian Packer so the items on ‘Greater Manchester Devolution’ and ‘Greater Manchester Low Carbon Energy’ are to be considered for a future meeting.

jan 2016 meeting

 

Does the Steering Group now have an energy lead?  Of course not.  And who in their right mind would waste time, energy (hah!) and credibility on such a pointless organisation?

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About manchesterclimatemonthly

Was print format from 2012 to 13. Now web only. All things climate and resilience in (Greater) Manchester.
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5 Responses to Comically inept #Manchester Steering Group has no energy chair #climate #farce 

  1. Ian Brown says:

    Some well deserved sarcasm there! It will be interesting to see what happens after the Council Elections; the Tories have had a go in opposition (they once, briefly, lead the Council in the early ’60s) and the Lib/Dems have also had their chance. Maybe it’s time for the Greens but knowing Manchester citizens; maybe it’s better the idiots they know rather than the intelligent people they don’t.

  2. “And anyway, the voters of Manchester just do not care about climate change – it’s a non-issue.” Shame on you Marc, making such generalisations, especially as you are studying for a PhD?
    You sound like those in the Party, than ran under the banner, For Fairness and Equality. But dismissed people from council and social housing, as being uneducated and not caring about ‘climate change’. While, the party itself, could only be interested in the middle-class (there is no such thing as the working-class, I was informed), reducing the voter age and legalising pot?
    Manchester has some of the most deprived areas in the UK, with the lowest male life-expectancy and some of the worst poor health outcomes. But, of course, this is all down to their uneducated unhealthy life-styles, right?
    Remember your hierarchy of human needs? Food, shelter, clothing and safety? A lot of Mancunians, are struggling to meet these basic needs. Bed-room tax, sanctions, cuts in disability benefits, people told to become self-employed, zero-hour contracts, etc. Yes, they do care about climate change, as the poorest will be hit the hardest. But when, they cannot heat their homes, if they have one, put food on the table. Then their thoughts, lie elsewhere, than climate change.
    And, as most Mancunians have been ignored, by our councillors and other politicians, in the past 4 decades. Less and less, people are going out to vote, as there is no one to vote for. Even the middle-class, Lib-Dem voters, stopped voting. Last year, they announced, 8,000 people had disappeared off the electoral registration. That is why they have enacted a law, to fine people £1,000, if they do not sign the electoral register.
    Lastly, do not forget the role of our mass media, who keep spreading nonsense on climate change and Global warming, including the BBC.

    • Hi Patrick,
      “And anyway, the voters of Manchester just do not care about climate change – it’s a non-issue.” Shame on you Marc, making such generalisations, especially as you are studying for a PhD?

      Show me the evidence that the voters DO care, Patrick, and I’ll change my stance. It’s ironic – I was being interviewed by someone as you were writing this, and explaining that someone with a shit job, a rocky marriage, kids who need help with their school work, ill parents etc etc etc – just doesn’t have time or energy to engage in local politics (especially with middle class groups that are obsessed with marches or elections).

      You sound like those in the Party, than ran under the banner, For Fairness and Equality. But dismissed people from council and social housing, as being uneducated and not caring about ‘climate change’. While, the party itself, could only be interested in the middle-class (there is no such thing as the working-class, I was informed), reducing the voter age and legalising pot?
      Manchester has some of the most deprived areas in the UK, with the lowest male life-expectancy and some of the worst poor health outcomes. But, of course, this is all down to their uneducated unhealthy life-styles, right?

      Eh? Mate, I am a fully paid-up member of the social causes of individual behaviour brigade. I believe in collective solutions for “individual” problems. I am not a small-l liberal, a positivist or any such thing. One of my favourite books is about ecological epidemiology –
      http://www.versobooks.com/books/788-a-plague-on-your-houses

      A Plague on Your Houses: How New York was Burned Down and National Public Health Crumbled
      by Deborah Wallace and Rodrick Wallace
      A frightening study of the way misguided and malevolent social policy can spark a chain reaction of enormous and unforeseen urban collapse.
      A Plague on Your Houses is a scorching indictment of the decision to close fire companies in New York in the 1970s and a frightening study of the way misguided and malevolent social policy can spark a chain reaction of enormous and unforeseen urban collapse.

      Remember your hierarchy of human needs? Food, shelter, clothing and safety? A lot of Mancunians, are struggling to meet these basic needs. Bed-room tax, sanctions, cuts in disability benefits, people told to become self-employed, zero-hour contracts, etc. Yes, they do care about climate change, as the poorest will be hit the hardest. But when, they cannot heat their homes, if they have one, put food on the table. Then their thoughts, lie elsewhere, than climate change.

      Yep, as I’ve written about in MCFly constantly.

      And, as most Mancunians have been ignored, by our councillors and other politicians, in the past 4 decades. Less and less, people are going out to vote, as there is no one to vote for. Even the middle-class, Lib-Dem voters, stopped voting. Last year, they announced, 8,000 people had disappeared off the electoral registration. That is why they have enacted a law, to fine people £1,000, if they do not sign the electoral register.
      Lastly, do not forget the role of our mass media, who keep spreading nonsense on climate change and Global warming, including the BBC.

      Nope, I don’t forget all that.

      Cheers!

      Marc

  3. Dave Bishop says:

    A friend of mine is a LibDem supporter (there will be a short interlude now for cheap jibes). Where he lives there’s a somewhat deprived ward which, until the last election, was represented by a LibDem councillor – we’ll call him ‘George’ (not his real name). George is a man of great integrity and during his term of office worked tirelessly for his constituents and came from a similar background to many of them. Sadly, at the last election, George lost his seat on national issues rather than local ones. The day after he lost his seat one of his neighbours came knocking at his door; the conversation went something like this:

    Neighbour: “George you’ve got to help me! I’ve got X,Y and Z problems!”

    George: “You know that I lost my seat yesterday, don’t you?”

    Neighbour: ” … eerrr … no …”

    George: “Did you vote?”

    Neighbour: “Oh no. I never vote!”

    I wonder how much not voting is down to disillusionment and hopelessness and how much down to wilful ignorance, refusal to engage and bone-idleness?

    • Oh dear. Yes, good councillors get shafted because of national issues – no doubt some good Labour councillors were punished in 2004 onwards for Blair’s war in Iraq. What is needed is mediating organisations, and so few exist!!

      And when ‘networks’ are proclaimed, guess what – they’re shit!!

      We’re doomed. Carpe the diems.

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