Yesterday the Manchester Evening News kindly published a letter by Calum McFarlane of the core group of Climate Emergency Manchester.
It’s about the need for scrutiny of decisions (and also indecision and non-decisions) by the leadership of Manchester City Council.
Jen Williams paints a bleak picture of Manchester City Council’s decision-making processes (“Anger at ‘behind closed doors’ council decisions” MEN, 2 July). She has spoken to various backbench councillors appalled at how planning decisions have been taken out of the hands of the elected committee members and given to the Chief Executive Officer, who is not elected by anyone.
But the anger extends to the mere voting public as well, and to decisions besides yet more ugly buildings in the city centre. As your reporters have written, for many weeks cyclists of all ages, abilities and motivations (commuting, leisure etc) have been urging Manchester City Council to act with boldness and imagination and install (very cheap) pop-up cycle lanes. Given how few people own cars, and how many will be forced back onto public transport without a decent alternative, this is a straightforward social justice issue.
We at Climate Emergency Manchester urged members of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee to list pop-up cycle lanes as urgent business at their meeting last week (Weds 26th). This didn’t happen and instead calls for cycle lanes were smeared as “fake news” and “myths.” There was little scrutiny of the Council”s (in)action, and now it appears that there will be a meeting of the relevant Executive Member and some councillors to “discuss” it. Behind closed doors, unfilmed, without published minutes. This is not democracy, this is not the transparent and open leadership that the climate emergency needs. Councillors need to insist on change, not just for planning, but across the scrutiny system.
We can also confirm that there will be online-only meetings of all six of the City Council’s scrutiny committees, from Tuesday 21st July to Thursday 23rd (it was not certain they would in fact be happening). Of course, a seventh scrutiny committee, devoted to the issue that will dominate the rest of the 21st century/human history (whichever ends first), is urgently needed. If you haven’t already signed and shared this petition calling for that, please do so.
Three dates for your diary.
- Monday 20th July, 8pm – next online meeting of Climate Emergency Manchester (email us on firstname.lastname@example.org for the password). We will be discussing what CEM and other groups are doing, and ALSO going through the agendas of of the six scrutiny committees, and also what you can expect at this next thing.
- Wednesday 22nd July, 9.30am to 11am the Climate Change “Agency” “Conference.” Online only, register here. (though, it’s hilarious to note that as of Tuesday 7th July – two weeks before the event itself, their website is silent on the existence of the ninety minute “conference” – we only know about it because by some mysterious process Friends of the Earth has been informed and put it in their weekly digest).. Your chance to hear from Richard Leese, Angeliki Stogia and other worthies. Going on past form, don’t be expecting much scrutiny (twenty minutes, it seems).
- Weds 22nd July, 1.30pm to 4pm Neighbourhoods and “Environment Scrutiny Committee” meeting. Online only. CEM will host a pre-meeting from 1.30pm for whoever wants to join. Then from 2pm, the “fun” starts…. We will be live-tweeting and playing some bingo games too. Join us for the (non) hilarity…
If you’re bamboozled by the whole City Council thing – its structures and decision-making – then
a) you’re not alone
b) this report Manchester City Council and Climate Change for Beginners may help.
Also, this graphic, done by CEM supporter Solvi, may help too.