Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee, 13 Jan 2021 – Unpalatable cuts, outsourcing animal welfare and more trees

Simon Jermy tuned into January’s somewhat more functional Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee (NESC) for CEM this month. The summary below is part of Operation Scrutiny

A reminder of what is NESC

According to the MCC website:

“The Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee deals with many of the Council’s services which are most visible to residents – housing, highways, the street environment, waste and recycling – and also monitors the council’s planning and environmental policies, including carbon reduction plans and climate change strategy.

The Committee also looks closely at the work of the Growths and Neighbourhoods Directorate and examines how the services it delivers meet resident’s needs and expectations.”

What were the major issues discussed?

Councillors made one thing clear; the £50m of cuts we face for 2021/22 are unpalatable and down to the Government going back on a promise to do whatever it takes to support Councils and its residents through COVID.

Animal welfare services are to be outsourced and don’t expect their services to look the same, stressed Councillor Akbar (Executive member for Neighbourhoods). Anything above and beyond the pure commercial tender will need to be picked up by volunteers.

Some good news at least, charges for replacing recycling bins will not be introduced…yet.

Let’s talk trees.

Plans to plant 1 million trees across Manchester are underway and several councillors were pained to stress their support for net zero emissions by 2038. Credit where it’s due…this is an impressive scheme driven by inspiring local people. Joe Walsh, Principal Tree Officer, laid down a challenge. If you can identify all three species of the new trees on Ancoats Lane (without Google) he’ll give you a tenner!

Councillor Angeliki Stogia (Executive Member for Environment, Planning and Transport) welcomed suggestions on sites for new trees on our streets, in schools and in parks.

As NESC meetings go, this was a better one. From waste management and homelessness to cycling routes and green infrastructure, it lived up to its name. And all credit to the councillors and officers who put the work in.

Yet does it tell you how we’re on track to meet net zero emissions by 2038? No, it can’t. With so much on the agenda, the focus is either really high level or lost in the detail. We still dream of a 7th scrutiny committee on climate and the environment that can bring everyone along with it, on the road to net zero by 2038.

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