My thoughts on the MENs’ Business Week 23rd May

In the Manchester Evening News‘ Greater Manchester Business Week 23rd., May, I thought the layout of page 5, ironic.  In the centre of the page, there is an article about the outgoing governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King.  Stating that after a tour of Salford Media City campus, he was quoted as saying that “Greater Manchester’s universities, meant the city region was in a good position to deliver a bright economic future”.  Remember, he was one of the financial experts that did not foresee the collapse of major banks and the melt-down of the Global Norths financial sector, resulting in the on-going recession.  So, does his word portent more gloom for our City region?

The reality of further gloom for our City region is reflected in other articles on page 5.  With job losses due to Antler moving its HQ to London.  Also RBS announcing more job losses (this is one of the banks Mervyn King failed to see as a failing bank), after the many it has already made.  Then there is a small article on the Co-op, selling it’s car-dealership.  But no mention of the Co-op Group being in trouble and having been downgraded to ‘junk’ status.  Will we find this ‘ethical’ bank is also, in reality another failed bank?

Finally, to ensure Manchester retains its’ ‘Green’ credentials, there is an article on ‘fracking’.  Stating ‘fracking’ could create 74,000 jobs (how many times have we read, that this or that would create jobs?).  Along with a story about Manchester Airport Group proposing that the government give a “holiday” of the Air Passenger Duty.  What happened to reducing our carbon emissions in an attempt to prevent catastrophic climate change?  Despite our business and council leaders continual failures, they continue to pursue the same failed policies, increasingly accelerating into the proverbial brick wall.

Quiet Climate Milestones – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service

“When it comes to climate change, we’re avoiding tough decisions instead of stepping up to the challenge, pure and simple.”  She could of been writing about the UK Green Party, whose pursuit of populist politics and not coming out strongly for a total change of economic and environmental policies.  At the start of the financial crisis, Caroline Lucas and the Green Party were urged by Tim Jackson, to take a strong stance on the economy and the environment.  But instead they have pursued a policy of just ‘more of the same’, showing a complete lack of leadership.  When members proposed a complete ban on ‘fracking’, Caroline Lucas urged the motion be changed to a moratorium, instead.  What happened to protecting the environment for future generations?

Quiet Climate Milestones – EcoWatch: Cutting Edge Environmental News Service.

And here in Manchester, we still have a lack of leadership from Manchester City Council even after two presentations from Kevin Anderson and Manchester environmental groups with their Steady State Manchester.  Under the leadership of Richard Leese and unelected Howard Bernstein, the council has continued to pursue a ‘business as usual’ policy.  A policy of of  ‘keep making the same mistakes and hope this time, it will turn out different’!  Unfortunately, I have found local Green Party members with a similar mind-set.

Protests Over Gas Pipeline in Mtwara Turn Violent, Military Deployed

Earth First! Newswire

by Deodatus Balile in Dar es Salaam / Sabahi

The Tanzanian government is deploying the People’s Defence Force to Mtwara after mass protests staged by residents opposed to the construction of a gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam turned violent.

Minister of Home Affairs Emmanuel Nchimbi announced the decision to parliament on Thursday (May 23rd). He said the government decided to maintain “law and order” in Mtwara, and should not be blamed for steps taken against aggressors.

Some people in Mtwara were spreading brochures calling on residents to protest with violence against the Ministry of Energy and Minerals budget, which was tabled in parliament Wednesday, if the minister responsible did not promise to stop the gas pipe construction, which has been some residents’ long standing demand, Nchimbi told lawmakers.

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Rise in Foodbank Clients: Unpicking the Data

The problem I have is Kellogs donating their nutritionally useless and unhealthy breakfasts.

The food bankers

Following the Trussell Trust’s announcement last week that there has been a 170% rise in the number of people using foodbanks between 2012-13, thefoodbankers look at the data surrounding foodbanks and food poverty in the UK.

Number of Foodbank users

In 2005-6, 2,814 people visited foodbanks across the UK.

In seven years, this figure has risen to a staggering 350,000 people who have been forced to use a foodbank for vital food supplies.

Of course, it is important to note that since the Trussell Trust  began, the number of foodbanks across the UK has steadily risen year upon year. The Trussell Trust currently has launched 345 foodbanks.

The charity estimates that three new foodbanks are currently opening every week, and that there would need to be 750-1,000 foodbanks to provide for people in crisis across the UK.

According to research published by Kelloggs, 4.7 million Brits could…

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BBC – Press Office – The Century of the Self

One of the problems those fighting for action on climate change, consumerism and for a more democratic politics, is getting the general public to take notice.  This press release from the BBC, about ‘The Century of Self’, a TV series which explores Freud, the PR and advertising industries.  Describing how corporations and politicians have developed these tools to manipulate the public at large.

BBC – Press Office – The Century of the Self.

And of course, the political elite like to frighten people with the perceived threat from Muslim extremists, as an excuse for removing basic freedoms from the public.  The blog below looks into a recent press release from Europol, which seems to suggest there has been an increase in religious inspired terrorism in Europe.  Ylva Nilsson goes on the explain the report indicated, the increase in terrorism has been by separatists and left-wingers and not religiously motivated

Beyond Pro-Nuclear Propaganda: Pandora’s False Promises

A summary of a report debunking the myth of Nuclears environmental claims.  Nuclear has a large carbon-footprint that proponents of nuclear never talk about.  It also would mean this country would be dependant on imported ore that is becoming scarce, 1-1.5% per tonne of material mined.  The UK has spent over £50 billion on building and running nuclear plants and it will cost an additional £50 billion to de-commission redundant plant.  This dwarfs the amount of money spent of renewables and the amount of money the fossil fuel companies avoid through tax-breaks, given them by the UK Government.

TwoPageSummary_of_ Report_May2013 – TwoPageSummary_of_ Report_May2013.pdf.

How austerity kills – by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu

What makes things worse in Manchester, is the so-called Labour controlled Manchester City Council. Which has slashed front-line services, sure-start, youth clubs, libraries and leisure centres whilst blaming it on Government cuts. While spending millions on ego-projects like parades, free concerts, the football museum, a new Irish Heritage centre, glass walkways and the public realm of private developers lands, as examples. They also allowed the walk-in health centres to be closed, Manchester will be turning back to the bad old days of increased gun crime and gang warfare. There was a recent article on Medellin, Colombia once considered the gun-crime capital of the World, on how it has been transformed by investment in public infrastructures:
The Initiative: Proyecto Urbano Integral – Urban Integral Project. 2004
An Integral Urban Project (IUP) is a type of urban intervention that aims to raise levels of quality of life for residents in a specific area. For that reason, IUP concentrates all its resources into a single territory, focusing their efforts and looking achieve results that are reflected in development and transformation of communities, socially and physically. It is specially designed to intervene in areas of the city’s most deprived and marginalized, where the state usually has a high social debt. In essence, the IUP seeks to be a replicable intervention model.
The project constructs safe public spaces to address urban violence and provide areas for social exchange. This initiative addresses the implementation of new public buildings and the improvement of existing schools, medical centers and other services that contribute to social development and the mitigation of poverty. The IUP also addresses the restoration and preservation of the environment to lower the risk of natural disasters and to achieve environmental sustainability. “On a global level the IUP contributes to reduce the worldwide problem of slum formation in urban areas, and aims to achieve the Millennium Development Goals: eradication of extreme poverty and environmental sustainability” said Oscar Santana.


New York Times

May 12, 2013
How Austerity Kills


EARLY last month, a triple suicide was reported in the seaside town of Civitanova Marche, Italy. A married couple, Anna Maria Sopranzi, 68, and Romeo Dionisi, 62, had been struggling to live on her monthly pension of around 500 euros (about $650), and had fallen behind on rent.
Because the Italian government’s austerity budget had raised the retirement age, Mr. Dionisi, a former construction worker, became one of Italy’s esodati (exiled ones) – older workers plunged into poverty without a safety net. On April 5, he and his wife left a note on a neighbor’s car asking for forgiveness, then hanged themselves in a storage closet at home. When Ms. Sopranzi’s brother, Giuseppe Sopranzi, 73, heard the news, he drowned himself in the Adriatic.
The correlation between unemployment and suicide has been observed since the…

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GreenbuildEXPO and the Green Deal

On the 8th and 9th May 2013, Manchester Central hosted the GreenbuildEXPO, which was sponsored by Manchester City Council, which I attended on the 8th.  On initially walking around the various stands, the one thing that struck me was, that it was all geared up for the Green Deal.  I did overhear someone saying that Green Deal advisor’s must tell people that they receive a payment of £150, I wonder how many do?

The opening speech was by Ashley Crumbley, CEO of Wigan and Leigh Housing Company and on the board of Greater Manchester’s Low Carbon Economy Board.  He stated how great it was that the Government is going down the road of supporting Biomass (Why? Biomass is neither green or sustainable: Biomass myths).  Then he talked about Greater Manchester’s Carbon Hub of which he was a member and of the leadership of Sir Richard Leese (What leadership, he is taking part in a government initiative and it was Nottingham that led the way on Climate Change over a decade ago.  That is playing at ‘follow the leader’ not leadership).  He then went on to talk about Kevin Anderson, who keeps scaring us (as if what Kevin was saying was some sort of joke).  He mentioned that 2 degree C, is the limit between dangerous and very dangerous climate change!  And that Manchester is working to accelerate into reducing carbon emissions (where?).  He then went onto state the business case is still not clear.  Executives do not think there is clear guidance and also the finances are not there and of the cost of borrowing.  (What happened to Leese’s leadership?  If you save energy, you save money, simple and cost of borrowing when it is the lowest it has ever been, except those on the Green Deal, who is he kidding).  He than mentioned Greater Manchester is the second largest growing hub outside of London.  He lastly mentioned a Japanese organisation (what happened to Leese’s leadership, that a foreign organisation has to be brought in, to lead?  What about all the innovation that is supposed to be happening in Corridor Manchester and Manchester Science Park?) NEDO, who are setting up a eco-community trial, maybe in 2014?

I have thought for some time this ‘Green Deal’ only benefits large companies, especially the big 6. People are struggling to pay their energy bills and many in Manchester suffer from fuel poverty. Going to the GreenBuild Expo in Manchester only reinforced this impression. Then I read a letter in the Architects’ Journal’s Annual Green issue (28.02.13): Green Deal: costly…

‘Regarding your article about the Green Deal (AJ 31.01.13), I’ve felt like a little boy who told the Emperor he was in his underpants. I have worked as an architect on all types and sizes of projects, both public and private sector, I have recently attended many Green Deal-related workshops and seminars. I also sit on the Small Practice Committee at RIBA, where the Green Deal has been discussed at length. Here are my thoughts on the topic: The Green Deal seems to be a very expensive way to fund improvements, with the only beneficiaries being the City (via high-interest loans), the government (collecting VAT and meeting carbon reduction targets), assessors, suppliers and installers (making normal profit margins) and private energy firms, which will be almost encouraged by the government to increase rates to make the ‘Golden Rule’ work. The Green Deal appears to be aimed at people who do not have the money to pay for improvements up-front (which would be cheaper), but the government assumes these same people will have enough money to pay vastly higher energy bills. Property values could be adversely affected by Green Deal alterations and outstanding debt that will be attached to the property.  I would not want to buy a house with a charge on it, so assume no one else would, either.  My guess much of the equipment being promote now could be obsolete in less than 5 years – long before it is paid for.  I have not heard mention of Building Regs Approval of Green Deal improvements.  I have recently…’ Marianne Davys, Marianne Davys Architects.

I can only agree with Marianne’s comments but go further and say the emperor is absolutely stark naked and possibly stark raving mad.

Sparking Urban Renewal: Inclusivity and Innovation, Part II | Sustainable Cities Collective

An article showing how a City can be improve with the full consultation of the local communities and not just some tokenism.  Also the is a lesson here for Manchester City Council, not only have proper local community consultations but also the investment in public amenities, such as parks, libraries, etc.  Also the need for an integrated transport system, something Manchester City does not have.  The Metro system has only disintegrated the local transport system and the privatised buses no longer run in some areas after peak times.  Manchester City Council has not learnt from it’s past failures, always blaming it on others.  A robust city can cope with changing economic environments, one built on hype will never survive, just as the former inhabitants of the Easter Islands: