Not joining the dots: Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Committee, December 2021

No mention of the climate emergency was made in the papers for this meeting, except for a reference to the upcoming Climate Change and Schools item for scrutiny in January, as reported in my previous post on the agenda. But this should not stop councillors from asking questions when there are items which clearly connect to climate. It’s time to join the dots.

If evidence was needed that climate is not top of the agenda for the council, this is to be seen in the Environmental Impact Assessment of the belated budget paper. How does it align with the desired Manchester Strategy outcome “A liveable and low carbon city: a destination of choice to live, visit, work” (sic)? Again, “increases [in] the liability of the City” are all that’s offered in summary. Might officers and councillors go beyond the bare minimum in their ambitions and actions to make Manchester a liveable and low carbon city? As the Welsh government recognise, we have a responsibility to future generations.

This meeting showed some evidence that councillors can connect issues – but did not go far enough. It was acknowledged that “domestic abuse is without doubt a public health issue”. Under the next item, leaders of the City of Manchester Learning Partnership took over twenty minutes presenting a slide show on the Pupil Referral Unit and Alternative Provision. Personalised pathways matched to pupil needs, reduced exclusions and increased reintegration were among their collective aims. Cllr Rob Nunney (Woodhouse Park) queried whether the large proportion of children and young people (nearly 60%) found to be seriously worried about climate breakdown may lead to disruptive behaviour. Perhaps officers were unable to consider ideas beyond their focus, so couldn’t answer the question.

Two hours in, the school budgets paper preparing schools for funding stream changes was received without comment. A COVID update concluded the meeting: Manchester having implemented face coverings in communal settings ahead of the government statement concerning the omicron variant.

Perhaps it is not too fanciful to hope for a monthly Climate Emergency update. OK, at the moment it doesn’t appear as such an immediate threat as does COVID, but it will be on an equivalent if not a greater scale in years to come

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