Richard Cowell, who has lost his Council seat by a margin of only 25 votes, is owed a debt of thanks by Manchester environmentalists (and also ‘normal people’). He became Executive Member for the Environment in May 2008, at a crucial time. Climate Change was not supposed to be his baby, but for whatever reason, his deputy did not -despite initial expectations – take on the role. Cllr Cowell responded to the “Call to Real Action” report positively, and set up an “Environmental Advisory Panel” to be a ‘critical friend.’ He was a tireless ambassador for the Climate Change Action Plan that emerged last year.
Did MCFly always agree with him? No, of course not. The EAP (MCFly’s editor sits on it) has suffered logistical problems, and is too much the fig leaf/rubber stamp to be effective. And the last 6 months have shown the Council returning to its bad old ways of low momentum, low transparency and low ambition. The incipient networks built last summer have been ignored, not nurtured. How much of the blame for this can be laid at Richard Cowell’s doorstep is moot. The fact remains that whoever becomes Executive Member for the Environment would do well to replicate his willingness and ability to learn, listen, engage and champion community initiatives.