About

We want Manchester City Council to hold a public consultation on how to spend the £14.5 million Airport Dividend. (Sign the petition here!)

We want that decisions that are made about how to spend that money to be informed by a thorough public debate.

This is not a party-political issue, and it’s not about the merits of electronic bins that tell street cleaners when they are full.  It’s about a point of principle – how are we going to have a democratic future for Manchester if decisions like these are taken within the confines of Manchester Town Hall.

Background-
Manchester City Council is about to receive a one-off £14.5 million Additional Airport Dividend from its stake in Manchester Airport Holdings Ltd. The Council wants to spend this money on, “strategic interventions to improve the quality of the environment and which are linked to behaviour change”, as part of something called the Green and Clean Places Initiative.

At the moment, the decision on how to spend the money is to be made by the eight-member Council Executive. We fear that the money will be spent on cosmetic interventions such as smart bins, rather than on anything genuinely useful to the people of Manchester. The “green-ness” of the Initiative is far from certain – the four-page Council report on the planned expenditure (viewable here) mentions the cleanliness of the local environment, the perceptions of visitors and Manchester’s aspirations to be a global city, but doesn’t mention biodiversity or carbon reductions. In the words of Executive Member for the Environment Nigel Murphy, “… the green could cover anything; we don’t want to be prescriptive on what it’s actually going to be used for.

We want Manchester City Council to hold a public consultation on how to spend the £14.5 million Airport Dividend.

We want decisions about how to spend that money to be informed by a thorough public debate.

This is not a party-political issue, and it’s not about the merits of electronic bins that tell street cleaners when they are full. It’s about a point of principle – how are we going to have a democratic future for Manchester if decisions like these are taken within the confines of Manchester Town Hall?

A public consultation will show the Council’s faith and confidence in the people of Manchester It needn’t cost a lot of money or time. And it’s a chance for the Council to re-engage, and start to repair relationships battered by the decisions to close libraries and day care centres and the like.

In the coming decades, as the climate becomes more and more unpredictable, we will experience “1-in-a-100” year floods and heatwaves every four or 5 years. There will be (unpleasant) surprises. We are going to need to have bureaucracies and political systems that are far more nimble and responsive than what we have now. It’s known as “adaptive governance.” It doesn’t come instantly, it doesn’t come by accident. It comes by creating spaces for genuine discussion and decision.

If this “Clean and Green Places Initiative” goes through unmodified – if the backbench Labour councillors choose to let that happen – then the work of making Manchester fit for the future becomes that much more difficult.

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