For anyone who has been observing Manchester City Council’s slow slide back into ‘business as usual’ on climate change, it will come as no surprise that there was no mention of the subject in today’s full Council meeting. The job of raising the issue of this most threatening of problems was left to Manchester Climate Action, who greeted the returning – and new – councillors with a larger-than-life inflatable elephant wearing a banner reading: “Manchester Airport – the Elephant in the Room.” An amplified recording of the noise of planes taking off ensured that the windows of the Council Chamber were firmly closed.
As the first Council meeting after both local and general elections, there were Council formalities to be attended to – including the election of the new Lord Mayor and the confirmation of Leader of the Council Richard Leese back into post (despite an unusual challenge from the Liberal Democrat opposition).
Cllr Mark Hackett’s acceptance speech as mayor included nostalgic references to the suffragettes and Chartists and to his own days protesting against the Vietnam War and supporting striking miners in 1964. Sadly, this radicalism wasn’t replicated in his planned focus for his Lord Mayoral year. Although he did apparently consider championing the natural environment, he’s actually plumped for upping the profile of volunteering, especially in sports clubs and teams. Nice, but not very earth-shaking – or -saving.
The new Executive Member for the Environment was confirmed – as per rumours – as Councillor Nigel Murphy. He will, according to the new web page listing the new Executive,
* Transport Policy (including highways & parking)
* Green issues (including waste strategy & waste collection)
* Licensing Policy”
So, no mention of climate change there either, which is mildly worrying, unless it’s been given to someone else… in which case, who? Councillor N. (there are 3 other Murphys on MCC) Murphy’s Assistant Executive Member is Fallowfield’s David Royle.
The other nine executive members, and their responsibilities, are listed here. The other main appointment likely to be relevant to day-to-day environmental activities in the chair of the Communities & Neighbourhood committee, which remains with Cllr John Flanagan.