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.
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?