#Manchester #climate events in January 2020

First as a handy and repostable image, below that as p text.

cem events jan 2020

CLIMATE EVENTS IN MANCHESTER

January 2020

No guarantee of completeness – if you know of more climate-related events in Manchester, email

climateemergencymanchester@gmail.com, with ‘event’ in the subject header. Appearance here is not an endorsement of the event, btw.

Monday 6th, 6pm XR Manchester social at The Sandbar, 120 Grosvenor St

Wednesday 8th, 10am- 12noon Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee Meeting, Town Hall Annexe. Climate Emergency Declaration, clean air plan “etc” on the agenda. Meet with CEM folk at 9am at the Waterhouse, (Wetherspoons pub) on Princess St beforehand…

Wednesday 8th, 7pm- 9pm Launch of second “Hung Drawn and Quarterly” report of CEM, examining the Council’s (lack of) progress. Come meet other concerned citizens! Upstairs room, Briton’s Protection pub

Friday 10th, 12-2pm Fridays for Future gathering, outside Central Library

Monday 13th, 6pm XR Manchester The Old Bank Residency, Old Bank Building, Hanover St, M4 4BB

Friday 17th, 12-2pm Fridays for Future gathering, outside Central Library

Monday 20th, 6pm XR Manchester The Old Bank Residency, Old Bank Building, Hanover St, M4 4BB

Tuesday 21st from 6pm Green Drinks: “2019, the year that was, or the year that could have been? – What next for the environmental movement in Manchester?” The Old Monkey Pub, 90/92 Portland Street, Manchester, M1 4GX

Thursday 23rd, 10am City Council’s Climate Subgroup meeting. Open to public. Town Hall Annexe.

Thursday 23rd, 6.30- 8.30p mA People’s Spatial Framework (hosted by SteadyState Manchester). Methodist Central Hall

Sat 25th (time tbc) Manchester Friends of the Earth Strategy planning session, Annual General Meeting and Social Green Fish, Oldham St

Friday 24th, 12-2pm Fridays for Future gathering, outside Central Library

Monday 27th,, 6pm XR Manchester The Old Bank Residency, Old Bank Building, Hanover St, M4 4BB

Weds 29th, 6.30-9pm Doing Tech for Good: How can we build an active movement in Manchester? The Federation, Federation Street, Federation House, M4 2AH

Thurs 30th, 1230-2pm Tyndall Manchester seminar ‘Atmosfear: Communicating the Effects of Climate Change on Extreme Weather’ by Professor David Schultz.C21, in the Pariser Building on Sackville Street

Friday 31st, 12-2pm Fridays for Future gathering, outside Central Library

Posted in Upcoming Events | Leave a comment

Green Drinks #Manchester – interview and upcoming event – Tues 21st January

Green Drinks Manchester has been around in its current incarnation for three years. Its core organiser, Tudor Baker, kindly answers some questions.  Also – upcoming useful event!

2

1. When was your group founded? What does it do/how does it do it?

We held our first Green Drinks Manchester event three years ago, in January 2017. We set it up under the umbrella of the worldwide Green Drinks movement that has been going since around 2003. The uniting principle of the movement is to host free, casual and self-organised events that bring people together to discuss environmental news.

In short, Green Drinks is about getting people together.
2. What have been the group’s major successes and failures over the last year or so?

We have had some brilliant events in 2019, a particular high point being our May event that we hosted in Patagonia’s Manchester store with Paul Allen from the Centre for Alternative Technology. After this event people walked away feeling genuinely positive about the future – a feeling not easily attained when you think about the environment for too long.

Event Patagonia

On the flip side, the group is not in the position that we originally hoped it would have been back when we held the first event. Three years ago we envisioned Green Drinks Manchester as a large group with frequent events that regularly bring in over 50 people a month. While some events meet this standard, others are small gatherings in the pub, although in a way that is what Green Drinks is all about.

On the whole, positive feedback along the way has inspired us and reassured us that the simple act of getting people together works wonders for people’s morale and sense of belonging. After every event, small or large, I feel energised and glad that people had the chance to come and meet like=minded folk.

3. If people got involved in your group, what sorts of things would they find themselves doing?

As an organiser, they would be bringing Manchester’s environmental community together. In practice this means anything concerned with coordinating events. This might mean booking venues, finding speakers and generally helping to increase the reach of Green Drinks through social media and sharing the word.

As an attendee the role is much more straightforward – meet people and build networks. People are of course welcome to do either (or both!)

4. What has your group got planned (and how might it contribute to maintaining morale and momentum in the climate movement in Manchester)

In January we are hosting a review of 2019 and trying to work out how the environmental movement can move forward in 2020 to replicate the progress made and learn from mistakes. Like any Green Drinks, the event is open to anyone and the topic is set to provide a starting point for discussion rather than a specific theme that all attendees must know about.

Looking ahead from that, we have mapped out our 2020 schedule and will put on events every two months to showcase the best of Manchester’s environmental scene and continue bringing people together.

5. What would you like to see the “climate movement in Manchester” do more generally, both to maintain morale and momentum, but also to increase its effectiveness?

The climate movement needs to keep meeting up to share ideas, energy and enthusiasm. Connecting, hearing stories and learning what other people and groups are doing is hugely inspiring. I implore anyone in the movement to keep meeting people and to build on the incredible year that has just been. There is a huge amount of passion that exists in the city and 2019 showed that we are better when we work together.

 

Next Event:

2019, the year that was, or the year that could have been? – What next for the environmental movement in Manchester?

Tuesday 21st January from 6pm

The Old Monkey Pub, 90/92 Portland Street, Manchester, M1 4GX

Posted in Campaign Update, Interview, Upcoming Events | Leave a comment

Council gives HOME £1.3m per year – demands NO low carbon culture action.

Exclusive!  Thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, Manchester Climate Monthly can now revealed details of all requests from the City Council to the arts organisation HOME asking it to do more to create a “low carbon culture.”  Brace yourself – here it is.

that documentation in full.png

We asked –

“For the period 1 January 2019 to the present date, please provide copies of correspondence between the City Council and Home where the City Council has asked HOME to 
a) do more on creating a low carbon culture (this, after all, is the  second goal of the City’s 2009 Climate Change Action Plan)

And the reply was

“I can confirm that there is no correspondence which directly relates to this.”

We asked

b) consider pulling adverts which come from fossil fuel intensive industries (airlines, fossil fuel extractors).

And the reply was

“Please see response to question 2 (a).”

We asked

c) discussions/briefing papers/policy documents/minuted meetings between the Executive Member for Culture and Leisure and other members/officers of the Council where a) and b) were considered but not then enacted.

And the reply was

“I can confirm that there is no correspondence in relation to this.”

 

So.  The City Council has been giving HOME 1.3 million pounds a year (1).

home budget

And making NO EFFORTS – or even talking about making an effort –  to get them to up their activity on creating a low carbon culture.

This, this is the “leadership” we have during a climate emergency.

You have to weep for this city, this species.

 

 

Footnotes

(1) MCFLy has no beef with that. They give the Football Museum loads of dosh too. A local government is there, in part, to make sure that culture and sport keep happening. What MCFly DOES find extraordinary is that the City Council seems unwilling (unable?) to use its influence even with organisations it funds.  What hope is there for other organisations – these 60 businesses you will be hearing about – where it has less influence, if it won’t even flex its muscles when it can?  Or is this all just business as usual, complacent greenwash?

Posted in Low Carbon Culture, Manchester City Council | 2 Comments

What next for #climate action? An interview/debate about Glasgow and beyond

This email interview below, conducted with Elidh Robb, a climate activist currently based in Brussels, takes a slightly different format from the usual ones. Elidh was sent the questions as a batch, and replied. I (Marc Hudson, editor of MCFly) replied and then Elidh had the opportunity to respond.  This was done early last week, before the Madrid COP (number 25 – the clue is in the number) ended as a damp squib.

The issues raised here – about what the climate “movement” (if such a beast can be said to exist) focuses on next, how it deploys its limited resources, are crucial.  If you have comments – especially disagreements – please use the comments field!

 

  1. Who are you, what do you ‘do’ around climate change  (that’s the easy one).

My name is Eilidh Robb, I’m 24 years old and originally from Scotland, although I’m now living in Brussels. For the last three years I’ve been volunteering with the UK Youth Climate Coalition in various roles, campaigning at the national and international level. Alongside this I completed a Masters degree in Global Environmental Law & Governance, and I now work for an environmental NGO in Belgium.

My name is Marc Hudson. I am old – I remember clearly the climate change issue (or ‘the greenhouse effect’ as it was then also known) back in 1988.  Since 1991 I have been convinced that our species would  not respond with the necessary actions.  I’ve recently completed a PhD at the University of Manchester, which looked at how Australian incumbent actors stopped and then watered down carbon pricing between 1989 and 2011.  As well as doing Manchester Climate Monthly (since 2011, and before that Manchester Climate Fortnightly 2008-2010)  I am actively involved in a group called Climate Emergency Manchester.

 

  1. What has been the value/use/outcome of the UNFCCC process in general over the last almost-30 years?

Eilidh: In both my experience, and learning (having studied the UNFCCC) the UN climate talks like most international level negotiations are a double edged sword. On the one hand, and particularly having attended 4 conferences myself, it’s impossible not to be furious and frustrated at the lack of ambition, progress and urgency when watching national representatives argue over a single word. However, on the other hand, this space (although definitely not perfect) is a really unique opportunity to change the way we approach the climate emergency globally, and although it has a long way to go, this kind of global agreement to actually get up and do something is pretty significant. What this process lacks in radical ambition it makes up for in setting precedent and forcing global governments to recognise that this issue won’t simply go away.

Marc: If you measure it by opportunities for fine speeches and activist opportunities, a massive success. If you measure it by how much effect it has had on human emissions of greenhouse gases, its failure has been tragic (and if the consequences weren’t so biblical, I’d use the word comical).

I’d also argue that if the UNFCCC process were fit for purpose for global-movement-building, we wouldn’t be in this mess. I’d point to research [“The ‘efficacy dilemma’of transnational climate activism: the case of COP21 ”  by Joost De Moor (full disclosure, Joost is a colleague/friend) about the failure of the Paris process to build that international movement.  I think that it COULD be, but it hasn’t been, and that the tail might be wagging the dog- because we can do these stunts, and we have done them – we think that we should…

Eilidh: You’ve certainly got a point there. The UNFCCC process can seem like, and to a large extent is, a performance of global “giving a shit”. But I’d like to think I’m perhaps more hopeful that this performance is having an impact.

It’s not a perfect process by any means, but since the Convention was created in 1992, the way that global leaders have come together to deal with this gargantuan problem has been improving. Slowly, but surely – and I think I have faith in activists to help push that change in the right direction, and quickly.

 

  1. What in your opinion are the benefits and pitfalls of ‘activist’/social movement involvement in the COP process?

Activism in the COP space is unique. It is very reactive and often sits in stark contrast to the rest of the activities happening at the UNFCCC. But in my opinion, it’s still slightly plagued with technical focus and technical specifics that mean we fail to acknowledge the full reality of the climate emergency, and the extent of the risk we are creating for the worlds most vulnerable by not taking action.

That’s definitely not to say that actions focused on climate justice, reparations, and the full extent of the problem don’t happen – they do, and are often really wonderful examples of global solidarity and support, with representatives from communities already impacted by climate change taking front and centre. But the media and national governments are failing to see these actions in the same way they do technical recommendations, and while both are important, I would love the climate activist movement to be able to break-though the media circus and carry the inspiring messages of global solidarity to people not involved, or unaware of the technicalities of the COP process.

Marc:   I agree the COP actions often get bogged down in the technicalities – activists want to show that they are not rent-a-mob, that they do actually understand the nuances of the policy debates. The media are unlikely to ever give them a fair hearing, for reasons that Herman and Chomsky refer to in their “Propaganda model” of media in democratic socieites.

To take a step back from the climate issue –  Back in the late 1990s the so-called “anti-globalisation” movement was in full swing.  One major tactic was to attempt to blockade meetings of the G8, the IMF, the World Bank and so on.  This process came to be known as “summit-hopping”, and a critique of it emerged. Those who had the knowledge, the networks, the time, the physicality, the arrestabililty to attend these summits and gain activist status tokens, tended to be, oddly enough – white, middle-class, able-bodied, westerners with university educations (of course there were exceptions). Meanwhile, in their home cities, campaigns against gentrification, local air quality, police brutality, community centre closures were struggling to get anyone involved….  I don’t think, fwiw, that the critique of summit-hopping is outdated. In fact, in 2005, after the G8 Summit in Scotland, the Camp  for Climate Action emerged… However, 4 years later, those people…. summit-hoped to the COP at Copenhagen…

Eilidh: I take your point there, but I’m hopeful that the mainstreaming of the climate crisis is starting to persuade global leaders and industry to always expect resistance. There doesn’t seem to be any other way to get leaders to sit up and notice, than to plaster the crisis across the sky!

 

  1. What are the main threats and opportunities with the Glasgow COP, the first one to be held on UK soil?

Eilidh: Glasgow is going to be interesting. At the UN level 2020 will be the first year for actually putting what they promised into practice. That means national egos will be enormous, and backhanded compliments rife. For the UK in particular I think we can expect a lot of sickening self-congratulation (I’d advice taking a drink each time they say “world leaders”) and quite an uncomfortable UK focus, given the global reality of the climate crisis.

Apart from the usual political nonsense, Glasgow COP is going to be a really critical time for UK activists to come together in ways that we haven’t really before. It’s going to force us to learn form those who understand the UNFCCC circus, but also listen to those who see beyond the UN and can look to the bigger picture of climate justice. For me, my biggest concern going into COP26 is that UK activists will get so caught up in our own national whirlwind of Brexit, “Clean Growth” and the UK’s pitfalls in terms of climate action, that we will loose sight of the gross reality. The UK is historically responsible for one of the largest shares in greenhouse gas emissions globally, and we are stinking rich as a result – yet, to this day, we continue to fund fossil fuel projects in the global south under the UK Foreign Aid budget. Do we have NO shame?

My hope is that activists will not erase the voices of those who will be most impacted by the UK, and other Global North countries failure to act. I hope to hear no one pulling the “China Card” and instead seeing activists coming together globally to raise the voices of the vulnerable, and less represented in both our own British societies, and globally. The UK needs to take some BIG responsibility, and we should not lose sight of this global responsibility as we call for action!

Marc: I think Glasgow will be, in the short term the “salvation” of the UK climate organisations currently active (I would hesitate to use the word ‘movement’ to describe them- I don’t think they are that co-ordinated or collaborative). I think Glasgow will give them the opportunity to appear to be co-ordinated.

And I think Glasgow will suck most of the oxygen out of the room for other debates, other issues, for the nitty-gritty of movement-building as opposed to mobilising.

glasgow shitshow

And so many hopes and expectations will be pinned on Glasgow that it cannot possibly meet them.  And that dashing of expectations, combined with physical and mental exhaustion following what by then will be over two years of high intensity activism for many, will probably (not certainly – only probably) lead to a crisis for many, where they burn out and walk away, leaving a small rump of demoralised activists trying to maintain momentum, probably futilely.

Eilidh: I agree, placing too much emphasis on Glasgow is not useful nor helpful. But luckily there has been talk among many activists I work with of creating a longer-term vision of collaborative work between UK activists. Striving specifically to see Glasgow as the start of the work, not the end – trying to account for burnout, defeat, and disillusionment.

Maybe it’s because I’m not at COP this year and I’ve forgotten the realities of its exhaustion, frustration and rage – but I think if UK activists can start to look around them to international allies, it could be an energising moment rather than demoralising.

 

  1. What else should “activists” be doing, in terms of non-COP activity.

Eilidh:  Well, I’ve already hinted that we have a global role to play in this crisis. The UK needs to do SO MUCH MORE, and we need to ramp up the political pressure so that our governments feel embarrassed. And not just about holding a disposable coffee cup Boris… That means joining together to put pressure on areas that we can change, and starting to fill gaps on policies we haven’t yet done enough on: like air travel, housing, and waste.

I would love to see activists coming together across the country to learn from each other, inspire one another and welcome our global allies with open arms – recognising the inherent social injustices tied up in the climate crisis and re-energising and supporting one another in what is going to be a long and hard fought fight.

Marc: I think we should talk about what we do between 9 and 20 November 2020 in our own towns and cities.  How do we turn the media attention on climate change during those two weeks (and there will be attention), onto local issues around refufee rights, biodiversity, air quality, climate mitigation, adaptation, social justice, gender justice.  How can we make it easier rather than harder for people who want to get involved without having to buy a coach/train ticket to Glasgow, find accommodation, worry about getting arrested, use up scarce annual leave etc etc.

To be clear – I think this won’t happen. The emotional needs, the organisational norms, the institutional momentum is behind big marches and other set pieces in Glasgow at the end of the next year.   That will, in my opinion, be a disaster, but I am now inured to social movement stupidity, since for all my adult life, social movement organisations have been failing to cope with the horror that is climate change.

Eilidh: It will be hard, I don’t think anyone is underestimating that. But I like to think your vision is not as far away as you think. At the UK Youth Climate Coalition we’ve been strategizing a lot, and while we cannot pretend to make huge waves of impact, we want to focus on creating resources and skill shares to make the COP more accessible, more relatable and more meaningful for local people – so that they too can see the global impacts of this crisis we are living in. Our plan doesn’t fix all the problems, but I think it’s a good place to start.

Posted in Glasgow COP26, Interview, Unsolicited advice | Tagged | Leave a comment

After the election: Consequences and implications for #Manchester #climate policy

What can we know, what is to be done? Another hot-take, but specifically on Manchester climate action.

With the usual disclaimers (1), there are a few things we can confidently say about the large Conservative/”Brexit” win (for what the Conservative Party now is, see this by Peter Oborne) at yesterday’s general election.

At a personal level, for activists, this will be very demoralising.  The impact on activists of XR and youth strikers will be profound: it is an overused term, but “devastating blow” is about right. Most will have thought a minority Corbyn government would be a possibility, and at least some elements of the ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ (2) might come into existence.  More on that in the ‘what is to be done’ (WITBD) section.

It will also be massively demoralising for councillors (esp the left wing ones), who are Labour and spent many hours/days in marginal constituencies trying to get a different result.  Those councillors, and the new candidates standing in wards across the city (Hulme and Whalley Range among them) will know that over the coming five years, they will be overwhelmed with more case work as the remaining vestiges of the post-World War 2 welfare state are hacked to buggery.  That has implications for activists trying to get climate change up the agenda and keep it there – more on that in the WITBD section. 

A little bit of the outcome here depends on what the newly energised Momentum-y types do. Will they engage meaningfully and in the long-term on local authority action? Will that energy go to the immediate issues of housing, homelessness, and – I can’t believe I am writing this about one of the richest countries in the world – hunger.  Hunger ffs.

Overall, “backbench” councillors, activists etc will almost certainly have less mental, emotional and actual time/bandwidth for issues that central government really ought to be leading on

The “leadership” of Manchester City Council on climate issues (and the quote marks are well earned)  will have a baked in “blame central government” defence for five years (and they’ve been using it for ten already).  And let’s face it – the Johnson government is likely to continue cutting funding to unfriendly local authorities, meaning they have to cut all the ‘nice to haves’.  The funding the Council gets from its 35.5% share in the Airport (45 million quid per annum) will loom ever more important.  More broadly, the City Council is hardly agile or inventive at the best of times. These are not the best of times.  And asides the funding issue, don’t even think about the economic consequences of a hard Brexit… (3)

The local authority elections next May will probably be dominated by Brexit and its fall out, with the elections basically a proxy for national dilemmas. Activists need to try at least to make climate policy and the failure to actually act on the climate emergency declaration as an issue, in as many of the 32 wards as possible.  However, it’s unclear that the political landscape – 93 Labour Councillors versus 3 Lib Dems – will change significantly…

At a national level, although Johnson was able to avoid all climate discussions (remember the ice-sculpture) he will neither be able to nor in fact want to in the coming year.  The UK government bid to host the COP26 conference (9-20 November 2020) precisely to maintain (the illusion of) its diplomatic power post-Brexit.

Whether he likes to or not, Johnson will have to big up the climate issue (but see footnote 1). So, the COP, to be held in Glasgow will loom EXTRA large. Government will want to talk about it, the big NGOs will see it as an opportunity to keep climate on the agenda, and the activists, at a loss for something else to do, will probably oblige by turning out. But it won’t be Santiago…  Focusing on Glasgow will continue, imo, to be a mistake.

glasgow shitshowglasgow shitshow

Fine, so, those are my predictions and most of them are probably wrong. Who cares. More importantly –

 

What is to be done?

  • We, as people terrified of the coming climate shitstorm (4) are going to have a serious job of work to do to look after ourselves and each other. We need to start talking about and doing  collective mental health, collective “resilience.” This, done right, is both prefigurative and necessary.
  • Simultaneously we need to be aware of the danger of retreating into fugue state- apathy, despair, religious millennarianism, magical thinking- and support each other away from those.
  • Groups are going to need to collaborate and co-ordinate better, sharing knowledge and skills, especially around holding decent meetings, retaining new members and sustaining morale.
  • As ever, we need to get beyond the ghettos (of place – the Hulme, Chorlton, Didsbury triangle) and people who vote think, dress, speak etc the way we do. Not with missionary zeal, but in collaboration.
  • Learn from history so that we’re less likely to repeat it. We have been here before. The history of failure on climate and environment policy goes back before 2018, 2009, to the mid-1990s. Same patterns and some of the same people.
  • Continue to insist that democratically elected local politicians do what they can and put good ideas in front of them in formats they are likely to be able to cope with (given the enormous strains on their time and attention thanks to the butchering of the welfare state and the immiseration of so many).
  • The need for accurate information, radical policy proposals which are simultaneously achievable is greater than ever
  • Did I mention looking after our mental health?

The final word on this goes to   @PriyamvadaGopal In two tweets last night, she pointed out

We are not going to win this election by election. This is going to take long, patient, varied work & global alliances. We’ll have to do our best to throw our bodies between vulnerable groups & immediate attack from this regimes,while commencing, as many already have, the slow patient long-term work of making truth & facts fashionable again, finding ways to disseminate them & get them their due DESPITE a fawning media landscape populated by thugs, fantasists & billionaires.

Footnotes

(1) Wtf does anyone know? Srsly. I thought Miliband was going to be Prime Minister right up until Cameron got a stonking majority. Yesterday I was thinking maybe a 20 seat Tory majority. Nostradamus I ain’t. 

(2) Yes, it was Keynesianism with an IPCC spraypaint, predicated on growth etc etc.  But still..

(3) Will Labour at a national level tack away from ambitious policy proposals like Green New Deal (2) – who knows?

(4) And the shitstorms feed off each other.  And people of colour have been living the shitstorm for a long time. As have the other species we ‘share’ this planet with.

Marc Hudson

in his editor of Manchester Climate Monthly capacity

 

Posted in Manchester City Council, Unsolicited advice | 1 Comment

Shock news!! #Manchester City Council upholds complaint against member, officer, on filming.

Manchester City Council has upheld a complaint about the behaviour of the Chair of Planning and Highways Committee and a senior officer.  At the October 2019 meeting of the Planning Committee, its chair, Councillor Basil Curley (Labour, Charleston)  and a senior officer, Julie Roscoe, both made statements to the assembled public about who was allowed to film what which were simply incorrect.  That has now been acknowledged by Eddie Smith, the (outgoing) Strategic Director for the  Growth & Development directorate (2), who handled the complaint.  Further, he has stated that he will ensure that

“All current Elected Members of the Council will be written to reminding them of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 and the definition of “Reporting” as stated above. Familiarisation with the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 will be enshrined in to our Member Training Programme for new Elected Members;”

“The City Solicitor will write to all senior officers within the Council’s Senior Leadership Group (circa 130 staff) reminding them of the Openness of Local Government Bodies Regulations 2014 and the definition of “Reporting” as stated above;”

filming permision

 

The October 2019 meeting of the Planning Committee was particularly well-attended, because the vote on the Great Ancoats St Retail Park car park was held.  One member of the committee, Councillor John Flanagan (Labour, Miles Platting and Newton Heath), alerted the Chair to the existence of many children – brought by their parents – to the meeting. This led to a series of factually incorrect statements being made by the Chair, and further factually incorrect statements being made by an officer (Julie Roscoe) as to who could film what with what permission. (You can watch the whole sorry thing here).

The editor of Manchester Climate Monthly, upon checking who could film what, submitted a Freedom of Information Act request asking what training was offered to chairs and officers and what sanctions were in place and whether any remedial training was being discussed.  The answers was none, none and nope.

Only then was a complaint about the member and officer submitted.

On this occasion (but not on another – watch this space), there seems to be some outcome – even if the member and officer are not disciplined (which is not particularly interesting in this case, imo) – there will, finally be some sort of commitment to reminding members and officers that citizens have rights,  and are not sheep.

 

 

Footnotes

(1) Manchester City Council is made up of 96 elected members (currently 93 Labour, 3 Lib Dem), and has 6000 staff, including a “Senior Leadership Group” of around 130 staff. There are six scrutiny committees, which are there to keep tabs on what the 10 member Executive and senior officers do. These are made up of “back bench” councillors. There are also regulatory committees, which make decisions on planning applications, licensing applications and so on. Planning is one of these. It meets in public. AND YOU CAN FILM THE DAMN MEETINGS WITHOUT ASKING ANYONE’S PERMISSION.  AND I THINK YOU SHOULD, ON GENERAL PRINCIPLES.

(2) Manchester City Council has seven directorates (think of them as a bit like “Departments” at the Westminster level, though the analogy is shaky). They are core (not city solicitor), core – city solicitor, adult services, children’s services, population and well-being, growth and development and our personal favourite – Neighbourhoods.
The heads of each of these seven, along with the chief exec, make up the “Strategic Management Team”.

Fun fact:  Until very recently, and after prolonged FOIAing and chivvying, these eight had not done their carbon literacy training.  They have now, but a couple of the top bods are leaving, so it will be entertaining to see if/when the new bods do their training… I feel a FOIA coming on….

Posted in Manchester City Council, Planning and Highways Committee | 1 Comment

Manchester City Council and #climate – flying staff to Edinburgh and Exeter after declaring “climate emergency” @XR_MCR

Extinction Rebellion Manchester are doing a protest about air quality on Great Ancoats St.

The City Council has released the usual nonsense about how concerned they are about climate change and how a climate subgroup has been set up (after significant resistance from the Council’s leadership, though they don’t mention that).

Yeah, look.  Since declaring a climate emergency in July 2019  the City Council has continued flying its staff to such hard to reach places as … Exeter and Edinburgh.

screenshot flying

(the list goes on, btw)

Because, you know, leadership.

 

Btw – we know this not because the Council is being even minimally honest and transparent, but because of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Posted in Manchester City Council | Leave a comment

5 questions to #Manchester #climate groups – Kindling Trust is first up… @kindlingtrust

Manchester Climate Monthly is asking various groups the same questions-

1. When was your group founded? What does it do/how does it do it?
2. What have been the group’s major successes and failures over the last year or so?
3. If people got involved in your group, what sorts of things would they find themselves doing?
4. What has your group got planned (and how might it contribute to maintaining morale and momentum in the climate movement in Manchester)
5. What would you like to see the “climate movement in Manchester” do more generally, both to maintain morale and momentum, but also to increase its effectiveness?

These seem to be somewhat important questions, and the answers will help everyone think through what happens (or doesn’t happen) next…

First up, Kindling Trust-
kindling
here’s their website.

 

1. When was your group founded? What does it do/how does it do it?

We were founded over ten years ago. We are a food sovereignty organisation focused on enterprising solutions which revolutionise whole food systems; from paying local organic farmers fairly, to supporting new growers, to volunteering on local farms, to supplying businesses with organic veg, and even running a veg box scheme.

We run various projects and enterprises along the food supply chain. We’ve set up a food network, Feeding Manchester, which connects consumers with eco-friendly businesses, events and workshops so that people are more connected with their food supply. We also facilitate Land Army trips to our farms for volunteers wanting to farm, grow and learn about organic food.

Beyond this, we have set up two co-operative enterprises; Manchester Veg People, which connects organic growers with businesses, and Veg Box People which distributes locally grown, organic veg to individuals and families across Manchester.

Our Farmstart program we run trains people to be commercial organic growers, supporting and guiding them to set up their own organic growing business when they finish. We also host graduates on our farms where possible.

But our focus this Autumn has been on establishing an agro-ecological farm for Greater Manchester, where we can demonstrate how sustainable farms on the outskirts of cities can help feed large urban populations healthily, whilst reducing our collective carbon emissions.

2. What have been the group’s major successes and failures over the last year or so?

The group’s major success has been Woodbank Community Food Hub in Stockport. The site has been used to train Farmstarters, host Land Army trips and community drop-in sessions, and to kickstart our ‘More than Medicine’ social-prescription courses. The hub is so successful that our sister co-op organisations even use it as a supplier.

We have hosted numerous events where individuals, either referred by a third-party service or dropping in, have helped plant, grow, harvest and cook the fruit and veg produced there. The Community Food Hub demonstrates our vision for food sovereignty in the future; commercial growers, merchants, locals and volunteers all working together in an organic food system.

Unfortunately, establishing successful referral systems with GP surgeries in Stockport has been more challenging than anticipated. The GP surgeries and healthcare professionals who we have engaged with have been supportive of our work, but this is yet to translate into a regular flow of referrals. We know that the busy nature of GP surgeries is one of the barriers to this, and we are currently reviewing our progress to look at how we can address this and increase the number of referrals to our project.

3. If people got involved in your group, what sorts of things would they find themselves doing?

We have a number of ways for people to get involved in the group’s work, and we always welcome extra hands! There are plenty of Land Army volunteering days to get stuck into; you’ll get the chance to help our Farmstarters out, learn about organic growing, and get an amazing meal made from the produce on-site, as well as tea and biscuits throughout the day! We also have workshops being hosted at Woodbank, you just book ahead for these on the website.

If you wanted to get involved in a slightly more formal capacity, you could organise a corporate volunteer day for your organisation to take part in, it really is an engaging and fun way of demonstrating corporate social responsibility. Similarly, we are always in need of volunteers at our Bridge 5 Mill office in Ancoats. Whether you’re a graphic designer, administration assistant, spreadsheet guru or copy writer, we welcome your support!

4. What has your group got planned (and how might it contribute to maintaining morale and momentum in the climate movement in Manchester)

The group is at a really pivotal stage right now, and we have a team working very hard on our Kindling Community Farm project. We are going to create a 200-acre, organic agroforestry farm which is integrated with, and actively supports, local social enterprises, change makers and activists. We are going to use the land in a way that supports biodiversity, local ecology and local communities, as well as build centres for social enterprises to work out of, and for activist organisations to use for events and workshops. We hope to maintain morale and momentum for the climate movement in Manchester by demonstrating how food and social systems can, and need to, integrate with one another for a sustainable future. The plans for the next few months are highly focused on securing funding for the farm, sharing our vision with our supporters, and getting ready to launch our Community Shares campaign, more information see our latest E bulletin:

https://kindling.org.uk/civicrm/mailing/view?reset=1&id=461&fbclid=IwAR3yfuykQlROgHF3HNtg2V2p7S7z1TNwu1Qs4OjSK5cqCBQF61McMKoZC1k

5. What would you like to see the “climate movement in Manchester” do more generally, both to maintain morale and momentum, but also to increase its effectiveness?

We think the most important thing for the climate movement in Manchester right now is collaboration. There are plenty of amazing organisations tackling the climate crisis in numerous ways, we just need to work together more now than ever! Morale is certainly being boosted by the abundance of community-led groups placing food sovereignty at the core of their projects, alongside the weekly climate strikes from activist school kids in Manchester, the ever-increasing Extinction Rebellion membership, and charities and social enterprises hosting numerous events, workshops and talks on how to tackle the climate crisis together. But we do think that in order to maintain momentum and increase effectiveness, we need to get non-activists on board with our movement too. We need to collaborate more with small local businesses, community groups and residents to make being climate-conscious as easy and accessible as possible, as well as with each other to share best practice and resources. We are really excited for the future of the climate movement in Manchester!

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Communication breakdown on the #climate emergency? Seems like…

In a little over a month’s time, Climate Emergency Manchester (1) will be releasing a report about what action the City Council has taken in the by-then six months since declaring a climate emergency. One focus will be on how much communicating about climate change various Big Fish have been doing.

In the meantime, the 8 page report “Communications Service Plan – Review” going to Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee (2) makes for depressing reading, if you believe – to use the old ACT-Up slogan “Silence = Death.”

It starts so promisingly, with an “Environmental Impact Assessment”.

env impact tokenistic comms review

But… that’s it for mentions of “climate” or “climate change” or even “climate emergency.”  An opening soothing statement followed by nowt? Say  it isn’t so….

So, there are (1.)5 ” four areas of focus for communications for 19/20. Each area has
improvement projects that will support the successful delivery of the plan for
the organisation. They are:

  • Integrated working
  • Digital delivery
  • Participation and engagement
  • Service organisation and governance
  • The freaking climate emergency.”

Yeah, we inserted that last one.

Still, it’s not all bad news. Thanks to EU action the Council has achieved an ENORMOUS reduction in some electrons being whizzed around –

(3.9) “The changes brought about by GDPR and the removal of non-compliant data
meant the reduction in the reach of the Council’s e-bulletin went from over
100,000 to less than 5,000.”

And it is fun to learn the following.

390k a year

But, um, climate emergency, anyone? WTAF, as the young people used to say, back in 2009 or so?

Hopefully the Resources and Governance Scrutiny committee members will ask for a report about climate comms?  Watch this space…

Footnotes

(1) Climate Emergency Manchester was established in March 2019. The editor of Manchester Climate Monthly, Marc Hudson, is one of the core group members.

(2)  There are six scrutiny committees. They are made up of “back-bench” councillors and their ostensible job is to keep tabs on what is and is not being done by the Executive and the officers. The scrutiny committees meet about ten times a year (2 hrs ish per meeting), in public. You’re able to attend and if you live in Manchester you can ask to speak on particular agenda items. Our advice is – never go alone, especially if it is your first time. You WILL lose the will to live. The scrutiny committee meetings are live streamed these days (the subject of past and future FoIAs).
The six scrutiny committees are –
Resources and Governance, Health, Communities and Equalities, Neighbourhoods and Environment, Economy, Children and Young Peopl

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Er, if you want better consultations, perhaps consult the consultees? #Manchester

Manchester City Council has set up a new group of officers to look at improving consultations. So far, they have …  no plans to ask citizens on the receiving end of consultations what they think. That’s the way things are done in Our (sic) Manchester – “differently.”

A 16 page report on the City Council’s approach to consultations is  going to Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee (1) tomorrow. It proclaims that a

“new officer Co-production and Consultation Group (CPCG) group was established in October 2019 with representatives from across the Council. The group will consider how to use co-production techniques where appropriate, and how to apply an Our Manchester approach to consultation and engagement activities.”

That’s great. The world needs more officer groups, after all, complementing the existing teams which already stretch across all the council’s directorates (2) . What’s that, you say – shouldn’t they be talking to the residents and citizens who might not be overwhelmingly claque-y and supportive of existing consultation methods? Well, there are very firm and specific commitments to do just that. Oh yes. You just have to read between these lines….

5.4 The role of external partners and organisations in this group is being considered taking into account how their time can be best used in the design and shaping of any guidance and toolkits, and how their expertise can influence

In case you missed it,here it is again.  (And who is allowed to be an external partner and organisation might get quite amusing – not so many of the awkward squad, we reckon…)

role of external partners

Overall, the report lists a series of *eight) up-beat examples of “good” consultations, where nothing major went tits up.  It is typically vague on specifics (numbers of replies to various consultations) and carefully keeps clear of some spectacularly bad recent consultations – clock this masterful example of Sir Humphrey-speak-

“Other examples are not included in the scope of this paper as they have been recently considered by other Scrutiny Committees, for example Neighbourhoods Scrutiny have recently looked at the approach to consultation in Highways.”

The report, which unleashes new TLAs onto the world (CEF – Campaigning Engagement Framework) will be discussed by councillors tomorrow morning in the Town Hall Annexe, from 10am. Members of the pubic are welcome, don’t need to book, CAN film, and so on. The meeting can be watched on livestream if y ou can’t make it down in the flesh.

Footnotes

(1) There are six scrutiny committees. They are made up of “back-bench” councillors and their ostensible job is to keep tabs on what is and is not being done by the Executive and the officers. The scrutiny committees meet about ten times a year (2 hrs ish per meeting), in public. You’re able to attend and if you live in Manchester you can ask to speak on particular agenda items. Our advice is – never go alone, especially if it is your first time. You WILL lose the will to live. The scrutiny committee meetings are live streamed these days (the subject of past and future FoIAs).
The six scrutiny committees are –
Resources and Governance, Health, Communities and Equalities, Neighbourhoods and Environment, Economy, Children and Young People

(2) There are seven directorates (think of them as a bit like “Departments” at the Westminster level, though the analogy is shaky). They are core (not city solicitor), core – city solicitor, adult services, children’s services, population and well-being, growth and development and our personal favourite – Neighbourhoods.
The heads of each of these seven, along with the chief exec, make up the “Strategic Management Team”. Fun fact:  Until very recently, and after prolonged FOIAing and chivvying, these eight had not done their carbon literacy training.  They have now, but a couple of the top bods are leaving, so it will be entertaining to see if/when the new bods do their training… I feel a FOIA coming on….

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