Manchester City Council has just declared a climate emergency. The motion was good (you can see an annotated version of it, pre-amendment, here). One thing that didn’t get a lot of attention, though, was the role of the five scrutiny committees (Health, Economy, Resources and Governance, Communities and Equalities, Children and Young People) besides Neighbourhoods and Environment.
Scrutiny Committees, by the way, are made up of “back bench” councillors. The committees meet ten times a year, two hours per meeting, in public (usually the Town Hall Extension). Their role is to keep tabs on what the Council is up to – are its policies and actions any good? are the policies being implemented properly etc.
Each committee has a chair. The good news is that all five of the Scrutiny Chairs had publicly come out in favour of the climate emergency motion in the days leading up.
We at Climate Emergency Manchester thought that the importance of scrutiny committees is under-estimated. We believe that concerned citizens can use the fact that the scrutiny process is largely a public one to both scrutinise existing plans, but ALSO to put forward new ideas, create new venues and opportunities for fruitful dialogue
We have written open letters, which we emailed to the five chairs as soon as the motion was passed. Each letter has the same structure – an introduction, some specific suggestions about climate issues within the committees’ remits, and then general observations on how the scrutiny committees could increase their profiles and engage with more people in the coming months and years.
You can see all five open letters here:
- Open Letter to Chair of Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee July 10th 2019 (Councillor Sarah Russell, Northenden)
- Open Letter to Chair of Health Scrutiny Committee July 10th 2019 (Councillor John Farrell, Higher Blackley)
- Open Letter to Chair of Economy Scrutiny Committee July 10th 2019 (Councillor Hannah Priest, Charlestown)
- Open Letter to Chair of Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee July 10th 2019 (Councillor Bernard Stone, Levenshulme)
- Open Letter to Chair of Communities and Equalities Scrutiny Committee July 10th 2019 (Councillor John Hacking, Chorlton)
If any of your councillors is on any of the committees, I am sure they’d be pleasantly surprised if you reached out with a link to the letter…. (You can find out who your councillors are here. Each councillor has a page which includes their membership of committees).
Also, date for your diary – next Wednesday, 17th July, at 1pm, Climate Emergency Manchester folks will meet at the Waterhouse pub (the Wetherspoons) to mingle and prepare to go to.. the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee meeting which begins at 2pm…