Urgent – please ask questions on #climate to Neighbourhoods & Environment Scrutiny members #Manchester

Do you care about climate change and Manchester? Do you live or work in any of the following wards –

Ancoats and Clayton, Bradford, Burnage, Charlestown, Cheetham,  Chorlton Park, City Centre, Crumpsall  Didsbury West,  Gorton North, Higher Blackley, Hulme,  Levenshulme, Longsight , Moston, Withington.

[Not sure?– click here and enter your post code.]

If so, you can help find out where your elected representatives are up to with their “carbon literacy” training, their ward-based activities and their position on democracy and transparency by sending an email (see below)

Some councillors from those wards are members of the “Neighbourhoods and Environment” Scrutiny Committee (NESC). It  meets about 10 times a year (including next Tuesday, 3rd January). Its job is to keep tabs on whether the bosses of Manchester City Council are keeping their promises on environmental matters (climate change, street lighting, pot holes etc).

There are 17 members of it, all but one of them Labour Party. Here they are, listed alphabetically with their ward and official council email.

Members of the NESC
 Azra Ali, Burnage cllr.azra.ali@manchester.gov.uk
Shaukat Ali, Cheetham cllr.shaukat.ali@manchester.gov.uk
Paula Appleby, Moston cllr.p.appleby@manchester.gov.uk
Abid Chohan, Longsight cllr.a.chohan@manchester.gov.uk
John Hughes, Gorton North cllr.j.hughes@manchester.gov.uk
Lee-Ann Igbon, Hulme cllr.l.igbon@manchester.gov.uk
Veronica Kirkpatrick, Charlestown cllr.v.kirkpatrick@manchester.gov.uk
John Leech, Didsbury West cllr.j.leech@manchester.gov.uk
John Longsden, Bradford·cllr.j.longsden@manchester.gov.uk
Donna Ludford Ancoats and Clayton, cllr.d.ludford@manchester.gov.uk
Beth Marshall, Crumpsall cllr.b.marshall@manchester.gov.uk
Dzidra Noor, Levenshulme cllr.d.noor@manchester.gov.uk
Chris Paul, Withington cllr.c.paul@manchester.gov.uk
Kevin Peel (Chair), City Centre cllr.k.peel@manchester.gov.uk
Dave Rawson, Chorlton Park cllr.d.rawson@manchester.gov.uk
Paula Sadler, Higher Blackley cllr.p.sadler@manchester.gov.uk
Basat Sheikh, Levenshulme cllr.b.sheikh@manchester.gov.uk

Very few of them seem to have undertaken the official ‘Carbon Literacy’ training, even after that was put in the Manchester Labour Party’s manifesto for the 2016 council elections.

So, Manchester Climate Monthly (“MCFly” to its friends) has devised a short questionnaire and accompanying letter.  (see below) You could cut and paste the letter and send it to them asking for a response (and ccing in mcmonthly@gmail.com  .

MCFly is sending all the NESC councillors the same letter, but there’s a rumour that MCFly is not universally loved inside the walls of Castle Grayskull (the Town Hall) and, bless,  councillors sometimes need  encouragement and reminders to fill these sorts of things out.

NB If you know any of the above councillors personally, but don’t live/work in their wards, also feel free to send. Please do NOT send it to any councillors who are not on this list, because after the NESC meeting on 3rd January there may be a different questionnaire that we want to send to the other 79 councillors

Answers will appear – as we get them – here.

Dear Councillor

As a member of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, I am sure you share my alarm about the signs of climate change that are coming ever faster – the warm Arctic, the collapsing Antarctic ice sheet. I am sure you also worry about the impact of a climate change-denying President Trump as well.  All this makes it even more important that the NESC is able to do its job to the maximum ability.  I am sure that you want it to display a leadership role both within and beyond the council.  Below are nine straightforward questions which I am hoping you will find time (approximately ten minutes) to answer before the next NESC meeting, on 3rd January, at which climate change will be discussed.  Your answers –unedited- will appear on Manchester Climate Monthly’s website.

 

Name of Councillor:
Questions Answers
1.     I know there have been prolonged difficulties (for years in fact) with arranging carbon literacy training for councillors.  In that context I am asking about your carbon literacy status.) Are you-

 

  • Fully carbon literate (date of certificate)
  • Completed the online only
  • Completed the face to face only
  • Don’t know
  • Have done neither (with reason – too busy, training no good, think climate change is a hoax)
2. Is your  ward co-ordinator carbon literate? Yes/no/don’t know
3.      Does the latest ward plan for your ward include concrete and specific actions on both reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the now inevitable changes that climate change will bring? When will this summary be presented? (see appendix) Yes – here’s a link

No –

 

4.      Are your fellow ward councillors carbon literate? Yes/no/don’t know
5.      As you probably know, in early 2014 the Executive Member for the Environment brought a plan to the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny committee that 60 of the councillors would have completed their training by the end of 2014, and the rest by end of 2015.  A report at the end of 2014 admitted the actual number was 23 (it has gone down since then.) .In September 2014 the committee agreed that a report should “brought to the January 2015 [meeting] on ‘what challenges were encountered and how the Council will complete its literacy task and then share knowledge with other largescale public bodies in Greater Manchester (including the other 9 local authorities.)”That report was in fact never produced.

Given that there are ongoing problems with carbon literacy training, and given that the Labour Party’s own manifesto for 2016 said it would “roll out our carbon literacy programme in order to reduce our carbon footprint and raise awareness of how individuals, families, schools and workplaces can take action to make Manchester the greenest city in the UK”, do you agree that a report should indeed be produced and brought to the committee asap?

If yes, what will you do to make it happen?

 

If no, could you explain your reasoning.

 

6.      Given the importance of transparency and leadership by example, do you support the immediate creation of an online database of the Carbon Literacy status of all 96 members of the council, and members of the Senior Management Team? If yes, what will you do to make it happen?
If no, could you explain your reasoning. 
7.      Manchester City Council supports the ‘Stakeholder Steering Group’ with cash grants and seconded staff, to well over £100k  (the Council refuses to say exactly how much). In 2009. when the Steering Group was set up, it was to be an elected body.  In 2012, at the second ‘stakeholder conferences’ elections were promised, and again in 2013. They never occurred.

Do you agree that elections are necessary for the legitimacy of the Steering Group?

If yes, what will you do to make them happen?

If no, could you explain your reasoning.

 

8.      The Steering Group was supposed to organise an annual, day-long conference for stakeholders. It unilaterally cancelled this in 2013, saying it lacked capacity. Given the amount of finances the Council has given the group, do you agree that an annual stakeholder conference should be re-instituted? If yes, what will you do to make them happen

If no, could you explain your reasoning.

 

9.The “Stakeholder” Steering Group meets behind closed doors.  Neither councillors nor members of the public (who are, presumably, stakeholders) are able to attend. Given the importance of climate change, and the Council’s funding of the group, do you agree that meetings should be open to the public to attend (as distinct from question/vote)? If yes, what will you do to make them happen?

If no, could you explain your reasoning.

 

 

Appendix

Manchester City Council Item 6 Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, 6 September 2016  page 4

“As the ward plans are still at a draft stage there are no details of specific Climate Change actions that will form part of the ward plans at this point in time. These will be dependent on the priorities of individual wards and the priorities of local members and residents but are expected to include actions related to walking, cycling and public transport, green and blue projects including work with schools and community growing project. A summary of Climate Change actions at ward level will be provided to this Scrutiny Committee when ward plans have been signed of in the autumn of 2016.”

This has not happened.  Why not?

 

Yours sincerely
Marc Hudson

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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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