1) What have you done lately to reduce your carbon footprint?
I use public transport whenever possible and regularly use the bus or train and for shorter journeys I use my bike. I cycle much more now rather than drive and enjoy cycling with my husband. I support ‘Meat Free Monday’ and was delighted that John Leech MP has been pushing for this in Parliament. I hear from Lib Dem colleagues like Councillor Paul Ankers that whilst the Council is achieving things on this, it is slow and must be faster. I try and buy locally sourced products with minimal packaging where possible and reuse old carrier bags, but I am disappointed the Council has not done enough to tackle excessive packaging. It may start with individuals, but big organisations like Manchester City Council need to deliver a smaller carbon footprint too.
I recycle any time I can and I use a compost bin. In my spare time I enjoy gardening but I avoid using pesticides and try and use only organic methods. I have planted 3 new trees in my garden and I try and select plants that are good for local wildlife. I have replaced the old style light bulbs in my house with the new CFL bulbs. When buying paper and wood products, I look for ones from sustainable sources. I avoid products containing unsustainable palm oil. I usually read newspapers online drink tap water rather than bottled.
When replacing household appliances I try and pick energy efficient models. Both at work and at home I try and ensure that all appliances are turned off when not in use. I avoid printing out documents whenever possible to save paper.
2) What has been the biggest success in the City Council’s actions on Climate Change in the last two years?
The Climate Change Action plan gives a vision for how we will tackle such an important issue, but I do worry that it could achieve little more than an unfulfilled vision. It focused on partnership working but is it really happening? Only last year, the Liberal Democrats in Manchester, the only opposition to Labour on the Council criticised Labour’s lack of action on Climate Change. We forced Labour to admit that although their intentions to tackle climate change were good, they failed to turn this into positive action. The Council, despite being the major shareholders in Manchester Airport are failing to set its targets to reduce emissions. Manchester has the highest CO2 emissions in the country – this is in no small part due to the continued expansion of the airport. Labour seem frightened to tackle the airport head on. The council are more interested in the growth of Manchester Airport than tackling the pollution it causes. Manchester’s ‘do nothing’ attitude on Manchester Airport reminds me of George Bush’s comments
on Kyoto – that ‘no-one has to act until everyone has signed up. It is a clear abdication of leadership.
3) What has been the biggest failure in the City Council’s actions on
Climate Change in the last two years?
Manchester as a city fails to do enough to tackle recycling – Lib Dem
controlled authorities like Stockport, Oldham and Rochdale have
significantly higher re-cycling rates. There are some strong areas, but
others, including sections of Hulme have not been dealt with. I am
delighted that finally apartments in the city centre are getting recycling
thanks to pressure of Councillor Marc Ramsbottom and City Centre Liberal Democrats, but there are black spots all over Hulme to and I will lead the fight to improve this. The Council are clearly not supporting organisations that can help achieve carbon reductions, funding to the Carbon Innovation Fund and Hulme’s action For Sustainable Living suggest they won’t put their money where their mouth is. The Liberal Democrats are the only political party who can hold Labour to account in this city. You can see this on our website – http://manchester-libdems.org.uk/
4) What do you hope will come out of the November 30th “Stakeholder Conference”?
It seems to be invite only, almost a secret event. If it wasn’t for McFly
very few people would know about it. That is my worry. It could be very clique and achieve nothing in the outside world. You can’t reduce carbon by 41% or 80% if we don’t get everyone on board. I hope it is a way to engage and drive on carbon reduction, get lots of groups involved, but I am not convinced that the Council have done enough to achieve this. I hope I am proven wrong. I was pleased that Chris Huhne MP, the energy and climate change Secretary came to Loreto College in Hulme a few weeks ago. Whilst he was there – he announced that the the Coalition’s plan was to make this Government the ‘greenest ever’. I will insist that any conclusions reached by the Stakeholder Conference will end up on his desk. Lib Dems in Government are pushing ahead with a “green deal” that encourages people to make homes energy efficient, slashing fuel bills and tackling climate change at the same time.
5) Do you think – hypothetically – that altering an independent
newsletter’s article so that it supports your Party, and then sending that doctored article out on an email list to voters would be acceptable
5a) Hypothetically speaking, if someone in your Party did such a thing, what should be done about it?
The reputation of politics has taken a battering over the past couple of
years. Anyone involved in politics should acknowledge that and work
together to build the trust of people. The rigorous selection process
adopted by the Liberal Democrats here in Manchester demands the highest standards of all elected members and people standing for the Liberal Democrats. I certainly support this wholeheartedly and it is clear that anyone caught deliberately misleading the electorate would be subjected to out disciplinary procedures and could even be barred from standing for council in the future. A recent example of our stringent procedures was the de-selection of City Centre councillor Kenny Dobson. Kenny did not perform the role according to our high standards and was duly barred from standing for us again – he reacted by resigning and sitting as an Independent. I hope this demonstrates our commitment to finding councillors and candidates of the highest calibre.
6) If people want to get involved with your campaigning/political party, how do they get in touch?
Contact Grace Baynham on: 07746840131 or firstname.lastname@example.org or in writing to Grace Baynham, FREEPOST, RLTU-TEEY-RCSZ, Manchester, M33 3LF