Manchester City Council’s Executive most recent meeting was the week following the Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee (ECC) where we reported on the fractured yet forensic affair when councillors scrutinised the annual ‘progress’ with both praise and scorn. This meeting was quite the contrast, with a packed 14-item agenda breezed through in under an hour covering everything from COVID and economic recovery to the closure of Wythenshawe indoor market. This was the first meeting of the executive following the Leader’s announcement to step down in December. His fumbling with the agenda on his tablet and slumped shoulders told me something had changed. Watching the performance it felt like he was going through the motions, using the agenda items to reinforce the legacy he continues to delude himself with.
Tucked towards the end of the agenda was item 12 related to the Council’s climate change action plan, which got a whole 5 minutes of performance on the theme of ‘partnership’ – the leader’s and executive member for environment’s (Tracey Rawlins, Baguley) chosen word to repeat in meaningless statement after statement. The performance started with the executive member saying that the comprehensive report scrutinised at ECC wouldn’t be discussed in detail or at length. If you did happen to look like we did, you’ll see why this was dodged and it wasn’t just to keep the meeting short and sweet for the leader.
The emphasis on ‘partnership’ and the lack of any mention about the failure to come even close to sufficiently influencing the city-wide emissions was the elephant in the Council Chambers this month. The collective ignorance to continued failure and lack of courage to ask difficult questions is the real legacy from 25 years of political leadership that continues to prioritise its partnership with attracting outside businesses and draping itself in figleaf organisations rather than actively listening to its residents.
When the Leader and Executive are unwilling to confront how the city has now burned through around 40% of its science-based target and even a pandemic can’t allow it to reduce its annual emissions sufficiently, then what moral authority do you have to go to Glasgow and represent the city?