A Green New Deal for Manchester
The recession is already biting hard in Manchester. Even local councils are reducing their staff under the budget reductions still being forced on them by central government. The Labour government is obsessed with pouring money into the banks. It talks at times of protecting those suffering most by investing directly in job protection but does little in the way of action.
Action to stem the tide of unemployment has to be local, it has to be immediate and it has to work to protect us from the dangers of global warming. If the immediate threat to our children is that they will be unable to find jobs and end up as long-term unemployed then the long-term threat is that they will live as adults in a world blighted by climate change. In Manchester, we have the opportunity to press for a local Green New Deal based upon the needs of our communities.
In December, the people of Greater Manchester rejected the TIF plan. We believe that this vote was based upon a justified suspicion of the complex financing plan proposed and doubts that local politicians would make good their promises. It was claimed in the referendum campaign that 10,000 jobs would be created by the public transport plans. These jobs are urgently required and the plan to provide them waits on the shelf. This last factor is particularly important. Many infrastructure projects have a long lead time in terms of planning and public consultation whilst the Greater Manchester transport plan can be implemented immediately.
We demand that Greater Manchester councils join together to obtain the funds to begin the plan proposed under TIF. We discuss possible funding sources below but it should be emphasised now that only inertia prevents the money from being found. At a time when literally hundreds of billions of pounds are being poured into private banks it is ludicrous to suggest that the necessary millions cannot be found to provide Manchester with new jobs and a decent public transport system.
Unfinished and empty buildings
Manchester council alone has a waiting list for social housing which approaches 30,000. Meanwhile, the recession has left the city littered with empty and half-finished building schemes which have been simply abandoned by property developers. The housing policy of Manchester Council has, for many years, been little more than reliance on the private sector either to take over council property or to provide a little ‘social’ housing as a sop for more over-crowded private blocks. This policy has now come crashing down.
However, this parlous situation also contains opportunity. The government announced in its Pre-Budget Report (PBR) that £775 million in funds for housing and regeneration would be brought forward into the current year’s budget and made available to local authorities. We demand that Manchester councils begin immediately the process of purchasing suitable properties. In particular, we demand that empty council property should be developed immediately for family occupation. It is a social as well as an economic crime that housing should stand empty of half-finished whilst building workers receive the dole and families wait for years on housing lists.
An Energy Efficiency Programme
In January, Manchester Council published its Climate Change Call to Action but it is very short indeed on any kind of actual action to limit emissions apart from a proposal to ‘analyse’ its own emissions and come up with proposals as to how to reduce them. The fact that in 2008, the Council has still not undertaken a comprehensive energy audit of its own [word limit breached]