Silence on #climate from #WhalleyRange councillors – therefore sending Freedom of Information Act requests

On July 10th, the one year anniversary of Manchester City Council’s 96 councillors unanimously voting to declare a climate emergency, we at CEM encouraged you to write to your three councillors and ask them what had been going on in the last year in the ward, and how you might get involved. Various of you have done that and told us so (the latest is from Brooklands).

One of the elements in the declaration, which – again – was unanimously voted for, was about the importance of local (ward-level) actions in each of the City Council’s 32 wards. So, since voting for the declaration, the councillors have all, presumably, been putting deeds onto their words. There should by now be a track record of not just plans, but action. That’s what the word “emergency” means, right?

I (Marc Hudson, one of the five core group members of CEM), wrote to my three councillors, in Whalley Range.  As per the guidance, I asked what they had been up to themselves, what had been happening in the ward and how I might get involved in local activity.

It’s now 12 days later. I have had precisely zero from any of them. Not even an “I am busy, but I will get back to you.”

So, today, the day of a ninety minute climate “conference”, I am submitting a Freedom of Information Act request to Manchester City Council.  This costs the Council money and time. But what choice do we as citizens have, if our own elected representatives, who vote for fine words about the crucial issue of the 21st century, which will have indescribable impacts on all of humanity and other species – but especially the most vulnerable among us, won’t even provide basic information?

If you have written to your councillors and heard back, please let us know what they said – our email is contact@climateemergencymanchester.net

If you have written to your councillors and NOT heard back, please think about whether you are willing to let them ignore this issue (it’s not you they are ignoring, it’s the issue). You could write to them again, and you might, on second go, get some sort of reply. Or you can write to informationcompliance@manchester.gov.uk with something like this below.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am a resident of [xxx] ward. On Friday July 10th 2020 I wrote to all of my councillors, asking them about their actions on climate change since they voted for a climate emergency exactly one year before. I have not heard back from any of them.

Although I am well aware that Freedom of Information Act requests place a burden on the Council, and it has no money thanks to ten years of politically-motivated austerity and now the costs of COVID-19 which central government is not funding adequately, I still need answers, because – long-term – climate change is an emergency we cannot afford to ignore in the short-term.

I want to know the following.

  1. Since July 10th 2019, when all councillors in all 32 wards declared a climate emergency,  what actions have been undertaken in the ward to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and to prepare for the changes to come?
  2. Of the the ward officer and other relevant staff (e.g. Neighbourhoods Team staff with responsibility for my ward) how many have undertaken their carbon literacy training and how many have not. If they have not, why not, and when are they scheduled to do so? (I am not asking for names, just for numbers, preferably tabulated).
  3. Please provide copies of the last version of the ward plan produced before the declaration and also the current version, so I can see what if anything has in fact changed since the climate emergency declaration. If the ward plan has not yet been updated since the declaration, when WILL it be.
  4. What events are coming up in my ward (obviously probably online) which as a resident can input my ideas and concerns about climate change, and become involved?

Please consider this to be a reluctant but firm request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, with a reply acknowledging receipt and giving me a reference number (unlike the councillors, who don’t seem minded to reply at all) and then an actual response to the specific questions in 20 working days,

Yours sincerely

[name]

[address]

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