Frequently Asked Questions about the Petition
What are you campaigning for?
We want more action – broader, quicker – on the climate emergency in Manchester. We think one way – not the only one, but the one we are trying to push for right now – is to have a committee that looks regularly (every month) at what progress is and is not being made. Then, if things were behind schedule, they would be more likely to get fixed quickly if there is attention on them.
But isn’t Manchester City Council doing really well on climate change? They keep saying so.
Yes, they make serious efforts to get you to join them in their parallel universe. Sadly, there is a reality principle here. So for example, Manchester used a quarter of its carbon budget for the entire 21st century in the last two years.
Oh, that sounds bad. But there was that recent conference?
Well, half way through, in response to a text question about missed targets, the host said – and this is a direct quote “we’re not going to have questions about targets, because this is a conference about economic recovery”
Yikes. So it sounds like there does need to be more eyes on what is going on. Okay, so what IS a scrutiny committee anyway? Sounds dull and technical.
Yes, many more eyes needed. A scrutiny committee is a group of elected councillors who have a specific set of issues to look at – it might be health, or economy, or communities and inequalities. They meet regularly (ten times a year-ish) for two hour meetings. The meetings are held in public (online of late) and involve a series of agenda items. For most, a senior councillor who has responsibility for the item gives a verbal report, and a council officer (“bureaucrat”) alsi is present and will probably speak. It might be what the Council is doing about homelessness, or apprenticeships, or the enormous hole in the council’s budget. The members of the scrutiny committee try to get answers from the senior councillor and/or the bureaucrat. They almost always get replies, more rarely they get answers… And you’re right, it is dull and technical. Nobody said saving the species from itself was going to be a laff riot.
But doesn’t Manchester City Council already have this covered? There’s a Neighbourhood and Environment Scrutiny Committee, isn’t there?
It has so much else on its agenda, that climate change often doesn’t get a look in. We need a committee that meets every month and looks at the climate emergency and what is and is not being done. If the agenda is taken up with other issues, proper scrutiny won’t happen.
But what about the climate subgroup?
You mean the one that hasn’t met since January, is temporary anyway and has no power to make recommendations to the Executive?
Well, when you put it like that… But what about the fact that the existing committee also has responsibility for transport?
This is a silly argument. Climate change affects ALL of the operations of the city. Economy, Health, Children and Young People. Those scrutiny committees need to look at climate too, perhaps in joint session with the seventh committee. But you don’t – if you are serious – say “well, because a committee looks at one aspect of a bigger problem, nobody else needs to look at the bigger problem in more detail” – not if you want anyone to take you seriously, anyway.
Okay, so why do you need this 4000 signatures number. What is magic about that?
That is the threshold above which the full Council will debate this topic
Right, I’ll ask all my friends who live in Trafford.
Wait a minute- do they work or study in Manchester CIty Council’s area?
Well, no, but…
Sorry, but they can’t sign. They have to live, work or study within Manchester City Council’s boundaries. They can SHARE the petition though, and that would be great, especially if they contacted folks they knew across the border?
What about Stockport, Salford and Tameside
Same, same and same.
Oh, okay, how do you think you’re going to get these?
A mix. There are lots of online events we’d like invites to. We have two minute and five minute spiels we can give.
We’re very active on social media – Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Tiktok.
We will, where and when it is safe, be at physical events telling people about the petition (via a q-code on a sandwich board, and if safe, via flyers).
We’d love to get celebrity endorsements and media coverage too. We reckon there are lots of people who’d want to sign the petition who don’t yet know about it.
And how are you doing?
Well, we’re not gonna lie, it will be a challenge. We have nearly 350 online and 509 on paper. We have until November 10th to get another 3150 or so signatures. That works out at 30 a day. So we really need folks to print off sheets and get the people they live or work with to fill them in (if they can do that safely). We need celebrity endorsements. We need invites to online meetings where we can give a brief explanation. We are a small group, with no money, and we cannot do this without you.
But once you get the 4k, voila, the committee sets up straight away?
It might not. It…
What we get with four thousand signatures is a 30 minute debate in full council of 96 elected members. They might well say “nah, we don’t think additional scrutiny of climate policy and its total lack of implementation is needed.”
But that would be stupid.
Yes, yes it would. But well, this is Manchester, we do things differently here.
There’s got to be a better way.
You’d think so, wouldn’t you? If you find it, maybe down the back of the sofa, do let us know. Meanwhile, we’re going to keep trying to get people who live, work or study within Manchester City Council’s boundaries to sign the petition, and share it.