Catalytic Action 7: The Manchester Prize

The Executive of Manchester City Council- in effect the “Cabinet” of the 96 seat elected body, has recently accepted a report called the “Call to Action.”

A London-based consultancy called “Beyond Green” wrote the report, (for £32,000 plus expenses), which commits the Council to nine “catalytic actions.”

They are:

  1. World-leading neighbourhood regeneration

  2. Retrofitting Manchester’s civic heritage

  3. A business alliance for climate change

  4. Low carbon energy infrastructure

  5. Low Carbon Communities

  6. A climate-ready Local Development Framework

  7. The Manchester Prize

  8. Greening the City: i-Trees

  9. A green airport

We here at MCFly Towers think that these sorts of things go better with consultation. While we are waiting for the Council to announce just what it is going to do on this question, we will be posting one “catalytic action” per day on the MCFly blog, with a brief analysis. We invite the people of Manchester (and heck, why not beyond) to comment on these. We will pass on your comments to the Council.

That’s not to say the other parts of the report aren’t worthy of comment too- it’s just that we have to start somewhere, and here is as good a place as any…

Catalytic Action 7: The Manchester Prize

“The City Council proposes the introduction of a Manchester Prize with the aim of establishing the City as a centre of design for sustainability and a place in which good ideas from around the world, connected with the creation of low carbon, environmentally beneficial ways of living, are demonstrated.

“Through the Manchester Prize, Manchester will become a living laboratory for applied climate change solutions and networks among those involved in making it happen.

“The Prize, which has been under consideration for some time, offers several strategic advantages, including a reinforced reputation as an ambitious City, evidence to governments and investors that the City is serious about climate change and the opportunity to bring the best thinking and design from around the world to bear in Manchester and create transferable reference points for future common practice.

“Private sponsorship will be sought for the Prize, pump-primed by a proposed allocation from the Innovation Fund, and the City Council will seek the support of AGMA in organising the first Prize for 2011.”

Hang on. First Prize won’t be awarded until… 2011? And then how long till implemented?
And then how long until it starts to reduce carbon levels? By how much? What resilience impacts?

When MCFly editor Arwa Aburawa went to the recent Overview and Scrutiny Committee, she asked why there was no consultation. Twice she was told, in effect ‘because we’re so determined to act NOW, and we don’t want to be distracted from ACTING NOW’.


This is terrible. This is just a frigging gimmick.

OK, deep breath.

We already KNOW lots of the things that need doing. This search for new “transferable reference points for future common practice” is just like a smoker waiting for a new less addictive fag to come on the market to make it easier to quit, and puffing away merrily in the meantime.

They cannot be serious. Can they?


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