Manchester’s MPs and Manchester City Council seem to be missing from the list, but that is too be expected from the Blairites!
Manchester City Council (100% Labour) constantly complains about Central Government, whilst it is happy to unlawfully enact the bedroom tax. Putting many Manchester residents into deeper poverty and even homelessness. Manchester is one of the most deprived cities in the UK, with the lowest life-expectancy for males. And all Manchester City Council is concerned about, is throwing money at the usual property developers, like Urban Splash and Ask Development
Manchester City Council is one of those councils which have not looked at the individual circumstances before applying the bed-room tax. The 100% Labour controlled council, has always been swift to carry out Conservative Government’s wishes, whilst blaming the Government. If it had carried out its duties correctly, it would not put hundreds of tenants through the trauma.
Whilst Manchester has some of the worst deprivation, all Richard Leese does, is blame others. He has been behind the push to get rid of council services, by outsourcing them. This is especially true of council housing and the council’s housing staff. One social housing provider in Manchester, Places for People, has the highest paid CEO in the sector. The council outsourced a number of services to G4S, which is renown for paying less than the minimum wage
This week was Living Wage Week. The new Living Wage rate, uprated in accordance with increases in the cost of living, of £7.85ph outside London was announced. At least 21.8% of people in Greater Manchester currently earn less than it, and this is similar across the UK. To mark the event SSM, along with signatories from other Campaign groups including GMB Union, the GM Living Wage Campaign and the Green Party sent an open letter to the leaders (and city mayor) of the Greater Manchester Local Authorities.
The letter urged them to take action on in-work poverty and inequality and demonstrate a commitment to the Living Wage and principles of Fair Pay. It’s below:
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Richard Leese, leader of the totally Labour-controlled Manchester City Council, along with the Council’s Chief Executive, Howard Bernstein. Are constantly promoting the need for more offices, hotels, retail units and ‘homes-to-buy’, despite the fact we have a surplus. In other words, supply exceeds demand by some considerable margin, which any visitor to Manchester can easily observe.
In a recent copy of Commercial Property Register, North West, June – Sept 2014. It can be easily determined we have an excess of office space. Meanwhile, in the Hotel sector, they are boasting of exceptional hotel occupancy rates. From the Business News, 2nd October 2014:
In the first eight months of 2014 the city centre had an average occupancy rate of 76% – a figure previously unmatched at this point in the year since records began. This figure has been sustained by record weekday rates (75% average YTD) and strong performing weekend rates (81% average YTD).
In April of this year, the Manchester Evening News published an article about the record occupation rates. Claiming there were three days where the occupancy rate was at 98%. This still allows for some slack, and with the average year to date (YTD) figures of 75% weekdays and 81%. There is still plenty of room at the inn, so why is there any real need for more hotels to be built? 1 in 4 empty rooms during weekdays and 1 in 5 empty at weekends, how is this economical? If the hotel business was so vibrant and profitable, why did Forte Hotels, put Salford’s 5=star hotel, The Lowry Hotel, up for sale. Especially it sit across the River Irwell, from Manchester City Centre. Some of the rooms presently occupied, will be occupied by contractors working on all this new build.
From Homes from Empty Homes:
Current Empty Homes Statistics
The data is obtained from council tax information. The data is supplied by owners of empty homes who report their properties as empty to their council. Councils usually offer exemptions from council tax for empty homes, which gives an incentive for owners to report thier property as empty.Click here for a detailed regional breakdown.
In 2013, the figures for Manchester were, 209,138 total dwellings, of which 5,399, 2.58% were empty, whilst 2,780, 1.33% were long term empty. So why is Manchester City Council still pursuing a policy of demolishing perfectly fit council homes? Only to build more ‘homes-to-buy’, nobody can afford. As well as wasting council revenues on pursuing compulsory purchase orders (CPOs)? Just so that some speculators can enrich themselves? The council now videos their council meetings, which people may find either amusing or pathetic, especially as a number of important documents were not available, allegedly
Manchester City Council recently published their latest State of the City 2013 – 14 report. Nowadays, the council does not show comparisons between the different wards. Except for a vague consultation of people’s satisfaction with life and how people from different ethnic backgrounds, from 2010. Is this because the comparison between different wards, shows that the worst performing wards, are those of the senior councillors, Richard Leese (Crumpsall), Pat Karney (Harpurhey) and Rosa Battle (Bradford) for example. I have heard a story, that Donna Ludford, the replacement for Jim Battle (ex-Deputy Leader (Ancoats) and now deputy Police Commissioner), has had her friends telling people she is no longer a councillor. It would appear, she is feeling the pressure from the people of Ancoats who are totally dissatisfied with the performance of Manchester City Council.
My initial interest in the council’s report was in their section on the Environment and Climate Change, pages 148 to 155. They do admit that the annual objective for Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) have been exceeded. They try to give the impression that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) emissions have fallen in Manchester since 2005 by 16.1%. They have in reality fallen by only 10%, having risen from 2,745.2 in 2011, to 2,944.8 in 2012: Manchester’s emissions. They do not put a link to the Department of Environment and Climate Change’s (DECC), Local Authority Carbon Dioxide emissions which was published 26th June 2014. Instead, they used outdated information, stating 2012 data would be available in the summer of 2014. Why did they not delay publication of the more update data was available? And of course, these emissions are only estimation, and could an under-estimation of the real emissions, especially as emissions due to aviation are not included.
Manchester City Council seem unable to properly account for their on energy usage, therefore are unable to accurately estimate their own emissions. From what I constantly observe walking around Manchester, is the amount of wasted energy on the part of Manchester City Council.
Manchester suffers from some of the worst health outcomes with residents having a low ‘good’ general health expectation and a low life expectancy. These are indications that Manchester City Council has failed totally, in addressing major issues that negatively impact on Mancuians. Despite all their hype, they have failed time and again and Manchester has not been resilient to climate change.
Child abuse was known about in the 1990s, for a Minister to state it was not understood, is diabolical. There was wide-spread political cover-ups of the situation, country-wide. My sister reported a manager in a children’s hostel, of suspected child grooming. Only for her to be moved to housing and for no action to be taken by Labour-controlled Manchester City Council! And Manchester City Council’s Children’s Services are still inadequate, leaving children vulnerable to child abuse; Manchester’s children put at risk
In yesterday’s Guardian, Margaret Hodge spoke about her time as leader of Islington Council, when it was proved that a paedophile network had been sexually abusing vulnerable children in every one of the council’s children’s homes.
Her own tenure was not without its controversies: within weeks of taking on the job, accusations resurfaced that while she was leader of Islington council, from 1982 to 1992, she had not done enough to follow up allegations that a child abuse ring was operating in her borough. When a victim protested her appointment as minister, she described him as an “extremely disturbed person” and tried to prevent the Today programme from airing his claims; she eventually had to make a formal apology in the high court and pay £10,000 in damages to a charity. “All that happened when we didn’t really understand child abuse in the way that we understand it now. This…
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Once again, Manchester City Council, is continuing with its failed policies, of socially cleansing areas of long term tenants, to build energy inefficient homes for the young, upperwardly mobile professionals. They have learnt nothing from their failures of the past, blaming their failures on everything but themselves. Without accepting there is a problem, taking ownwership of that problem, the problem will never be resolved. Manchester, is locked in an ever decreasing spiral towards total breakdown, like Detroit in the USA, where residents are having their water cut-off: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Detroit
Manchester City has signed a new housing deal with Manchester City! Yes, that’s what we said, where “Manchester City” of course means Manchester City Council and strangely enough (in Manc. English) “Manchester City” also means Manchester City Football Club.
Even stranger, that football club is owned by an investment company the
Abu Dhabi United Group, the personal fiefdom of one Mansoor bin Zayed bin Sultan bin Zayed bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minster of the United Arab Emirates, the federation of small absolute monarchies on the Arabian Peninsular, with innovative social policies such as the use of torture, capital punishment, high levels of labour exploitation, and 14-year prison terms for homosexuality. It is also the country with the world’s highest per capita ecological footprint, although reported to be…
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The AGM (annual general meeting) was held at Manchester Town Hall, in the Great Hall. Tea or coffee was laid on, and there were some hand-outs available at the sign-in desk, including the Manchester: A Certain Future (MACF), Annual Report 2014. The attendees were predominately, affluent white middle-class, as usual. The AGM was late staring, being close to 17:00 hrs.
The Chair was Victoria Gill, a science reporter for the BBC. She mentioned she came from Wigan, and that somehow connected her to Manchester? She also stated she was in Manchester shopping when the 1996 bomb went off (an incident, I do not believe was properly investigated and there are many unanswered questions about it?)! Then went on to say how Manchester had improved since the bomb. Something you hear mostly from non-Mancunians, and not from Mancunians, who have not seen any real improvements, but did want the Arndale, to go completely. She firstly introduced Richard Leese, leader of the totally Labour controlled, Manchester City Council. Who stated there was an urgency, of the need to act? So why has he not acted in a determined way to tackle climate change? Joked that it had taken 5 years for the first MACF, AGM (brushing off his abject failure as a joke, is quite childish) and then went on to claim Manchester’s climate literacy programme was the first in the World (I believe Cornwall had one before Manchester). He admitted not enough had been done but the Council will be renewing the City Strategy.
The Key note address was from Tony Juniper, who emphasised that climate change was not a distant peril, it is happening right now. Talked about some weather related incidents in the UK, including the dry spell in 2011. When Thames Water were on the verge on declaring a water emergency, with regards to London’s water supply. That we need to limit Global warming to 2OC, so we needed to be making the cuts to CO2 emissions now. There was a need to peak emissions by 2020, but they had actually risen 50% since 1992. Mentioned the Palaeocene Era, where emissions were at 415 ppm and sea levels were 40 metres higher than they are now. This is the future we are looking at, with most Cities in the UK being under water. That our carbon budget for the 21st has nearly been used up already. That the World Bank, a renowned environmentally aware group, publishing the HEAT report. And Christine Lagarde (International Monetary Fund) on the negative economic impacts of climate change. And yet the UK Government down playing renewables, whilst pushing for and subsidising unconventional fossil fuels, for short-term economic growth (will it even bring any economic benefits?).
He then went on to say that Cities had a role to play. And some had shown real leadership, like London with their congestion charge and policies on local government buildings. Spoke about Oslo’s initiative to reduce their street light energy use by 70%. San Francisco’s zero emissions vehicles and increased cycling, with similar schemes operating in Boston, despite State and Federal legislations. Bristol with their organic waste recycling. Some cities which have improved their green infrastructures (unlike Manchester, which has decimated some of its green infrastructure), have seen a 5OC reduction within the cities (reduced the heat island effect). That green infrastructure improved house prices, reduced crime (some of the issues Manchester campaigners (Friends of Birley Fields and Alexandra Park) have used in support of the campaigns against the council actions) and sustainable drainage. Mentioned many other Cities but no mention of Manchester. Pointing out that Cities were doing it and proving it works, that other people would follow their example, “Leading by Example”. If we cannot get it done at city level, it will not happen at all. He stated, ‘Manchester should show leadership, he was sure it can’.
Gavin Elliot, chair of MACF, was up next to speak. He stated MACF 2010, stated what was needed but was absent of actions. Admitted, he was an architect but was also an environmentalist. That MACF needed an annual report, but lacked funds, especially to employ full-time staff. Mentioned the difficulty of collecting data (something I have experience, when asking the Council for figures for their electricity, gas, water and fuel bills), from the different agencies. That only 1,000 people were classed as carbon literate, it should be more. No data on adaptation, 221,000 households, little take up of green deals. Lack of facilities for cyclists, but gave a figure of 1,500 cycling into the City? Green:Blue infrastructure may not affect carbon emissions, but there are mental health benefits.
Manchester will not meet the 41% CO2 emissions reduction, blamed it on part on Central Government? There was a need to scale-up activity, (I would ask, what activity?). The new MACF Steering Group was making some headway, compared to the previously. The need to develop a SMART (Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic; Timely.) MACF plan for 2015 – 2020.
Question and Answer session.
I missed the introduction of the panel (a name plate in front of each panellist would have been a help) and maybe the first question, which I believe was on biodiversity.
An admission air quality was impacted on by transport, which had a detrimental effect on health. Car use and the use of air quality indicators.
Mark Burton –‘How can we change our economy to reduce CO2 emissions, de-coupling CO2 emissions difficult – we need employment and prosperity.
Tony Juniper, mentioned Tim Jackson and ‘Prosperity without Growth’. (A must read for Manchester City Councillors and officials). Someone mentioned, getting beyond those in the room.
Coleman stated, ‘we are in the early stages’???
A member of the audience, mentioned that work should be closer to where people live, reduce the need to travel.
Kate Chappell, replied that the council was reviewing policy with regards to district centres (I suggest she tries living in Wythenshawe, for example, where the district centre is the forum, miles away for most).
A member of Calder Energy Future – ‘should we work together, how can we achieve anything’? To which Sadler, a council official, boasted, Manchester was a City of Firsts. (Yes, in poverty, deprivation and early mortality rates).
A Rusholme resident, stated how they were planting trees, how we had some good councillors (this was a Q&A session, not a Council jamboree?).
Tony Juniper, ‘we need a reconnection with nature, there was a need to restore natural green spaces in Cities’. (Manchester City Council have destroyed green spaces in the City, Piccadilly Gardens, Sackville Street Gardens, Birley Fields, Platt Fields, Heaton Park and especially Alexandra Park).
A councillor from Charleston mentioned heat pumps and that it was a new technology (It is not a new technology, but I believe the use of heat pumps using air source, inappropriate for the UK. Ground-source heat pumps using deeply laid pipework more appropriate). And was quick to point out, that Gavin was wrong and that, Northward Homes had 1,036 homes fitted with solar panels. To which Gavin apologised (was not the publication the councillor referred to, using data supplied by the council?), and said there were examples from other cities and countries. That MACF was a growing network.
Kate Moss, from the Community Energy Group asked how they were planning to work with these other groups and why are they not in the plan?
Cycling – funding for cycling?
Vicky (Sustrains) mentioned, they had not got the community engagement right. There is a bad attitude towards cyclists by motorists (I would say, towards pedestrians, as well), which needs to change.
At the end, wine and juice was laid on, which I gave a miss. I did want to speak to the person from Calder Energy Future, to tell him if he wanted any practical advice. He might be better off talking to Woking Council, Nottingham City Council or Bristol City Council. But he had made a bee-line to Richard Leese, so I left him to it.
I felt we had some straight talking from Tony Juniper and some real honesty from Gavin Elliot. I felt that the Council, once again, were trying ‘big themselves up’, and towards the end, it started become more a council love-in. This is despite the fact, the council has failed dismally to live up to their boasts. Despite Richard Leese boasts, the only economic growth in Manchester, are drugs and prostitution. As long as the council leadership, Richard Leese and Howard Bernstein, fail to admit there is a problem, take ownership of the problem, the problem will not be resolved. In other words, if they continue with their failed policies and blame everyone else, for their failures, things in Manchester will only get worse. When will the other councillors not realise, they are Sheep being led to their slaughter by a Judas Goat? When will any of them, show true leadership?
The report itself, needs further study, as it appears to be economical with the truth. I am not sure the emissions attributed to Transport, also include emissions from aviation, which will be considerable. Someone showed it too (she is not a green), scoffed at the 50%+ given for the area of Manchester covered in green infrastructure. She also mentioned that they must have wasted a fortune in printing out the report and the other literature available at the event.
Manchester City’s council leader Richard Leese, went to Copenhagen in 2009, waving a piece of paper, ‘Manchester – A Certain Future‘. Supposedly outlining how Manchester would become a green city and reduce its carbon emissions. It has become a worthless piece of paper, just as Neville Chamberlain’s, ‘Peace in our Time‘, was mocked by Hitler. All the while, he has ignored good examples of how this can be achieved, such as in Freiburg, Germany. Who have managed to embrace renewable energy and energy efficiency, without destroying its historic architecture. Is it because the Greens are the largest party in their town council? Unlike Leese in Manchester, who has cleared acres of social/council housing and historic buildings, to build his energy inefficient ivory towers. Woking, Surrey, is about the only UK town or City, that comes anywhere to Freiburg, in renewable energy and efficiencies. But Richard Leese has delusions of grandeur, which are fuelled by his sycophantic colleagues and business people. And instead of looking towards best practice, just blames other councils for not get their act together.