ACTION ONE: All Councillors to be “Carbon Literate” by Dec 31st 2014
Despite a May 2013 recommendation by the Economy Scrutiny Committee that all 96 councillors be carbon literate by May 2014, at present only 6 councillors have completed the training, and the current plan is for all 96 to be carbon literate by March 2017.
By end of December 2014 all of the 96 Councillors then representing the 32 ward to have undergone carbon literacy.
NB This means that some councillors, for example those who are not standing for re-election, would not need to do it. However, at the May 22nd eletions and at any subsequent bye-elections, new councillors will be coming on board. There will need to be a mechanism by which they undergo training.
Reboot the e-learning component by March 1st 2014 and make a public announcement to this effect.
Get the workshops happening by mid March 2014 onwards.
Clearly the political responsibility for this action lies with the Executive Member for the Environment.
There would need to be, given previous failings, a Carbon Literacy Implementation Team. But you might want to choose a different acronym.
Who will be the named officer with responsibility for administering this programme and resolving problems that emerge?
Will they be called upon to produce a monthly progress report that is sent to Neighbourhoods Scrutiny over the rest of 2014? Given that there are no Scrutiny Committee meetings from early March to late May/early June, how will progress be reported during that crucial period?
Command & Control/unanswered questions
What comes next, once a councillor is “carbon literate”? Will they then go on to lead on getting climate change properly embedded in ward plans? What if the councillor still has questions? What if the councillor wants to learn more? How will the Environmental Strategy Team and other actors support these councillors? Will councillors be expected to ‘re-validate’ their training every four years? If not, why not?
Presumably the e-learning component has already been paid for.
Presumably the workshop training is being done “in-house.” The cheapest and easiest option – of city centre workshops after Full Council meetings may not be the most effective long-term strategy.
Potential multiplier effects
Lessons learnt from the effective roll-out of this to elected members could be shared with the other 9 local authorities, and beyond.
Ultimately, it could become something that was offered to all candidates standing in local authority elections in both Manchester and Greater Manchester.
And members of the meeting-behind-closed-doors Greater Manchester Low Carbon Hub
Consequences of non-delivery of this action
A massive credibility blackhole. If the councillors are unwilling to lead by example, and unable to organise their own training, why should anyone take them seriously when they speak of climate change and of a “carbon literate” city.
Next short-term action(s)
Ensure that the e-learning component is improved in line with the feedback from early 2013
Re-schedule the workshops as soon as possible.
Create a public and regularly updated database of which councillors have undertaken the training.
Get a public commitment from all members of the Executive, all chairs of all Committees and all members of the Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee (currently charged with scrutinising the Council’s climate plan) to undertake the carbon literacy training before the May 22nd local authority elections.
Consider having workshops after full Council meetings (though the downside of this is that the workshops would not be happening in councillors’ geographical areas. There is no ‘right’ solution.)
Medium-to-long term actions
It would make sense, where possible, for groups of councillors representing a geographical area, to do the workshop element of their training together and be able to discuss the implications for their wards.
It would make sense, for example, for an extended afternoon/evening session of the Wythenshawe Area Committee to meet, with a workshop for members before an open meeting to which residents of the 5 wards were pro-actively invited to attend and bring their ideas. If you were really being “joined up” and ambitious, you’d invite those residents to undertake the e-learning and workshop alongside their councillors.