Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, continually argues, Manchester City Council cannot do anything without the other councils within Greater Manchester doing so as well. I attended the Triodos Bank AGM (Annual General Meeting) in Bristol the other month and heard some inspirational stories from people including those from Bristol. The Mayor of Bristol was one of those who spoke about what had been achieved and what they are still trying to achieve. There was an atmosphere of being part of the solution and of success. This feeling of success, came on top of my feeling, things are getting done in Bristol, after my visit for the Triodos Renewables Fund AGM. I had posted earlier about my visit to the AGM: Bristol-and-Wessex-Water. Not the constant complaints why it cannot be done or that it is somebody’s fault, they constantly emanates from Richard Leese. How he can be considered a leader, is beyond me, he is unfit to be in charge of an empty shopping trolley, in an empty car park. The article reinforces the fact, that Bristol is moving forward on being green and sustainable:
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.
Here in Manchester, Manchester City Council has taken a very different approach. This can be seen clearly in Hulme, with its redevelopment in the 1990s, an ASDA was one of the first retail units built. The other smaller retail units and the very small market were built later, and as such have struggled to exist. In fact, the market is now a B&Ms, with a few ex-stallholders still having a presence. The council repeated their mistakes in Bradford, with the area being renamed New Eastlands and a large ASDA being built near to the stadium. A large supermarket is to built in Ancoats, now referred to as New Islington, with very few local business still in existence. The gentrification of Manchester has been a total failure but politicians still enthuse about Manchester’s success!
Another report from the European Environmental Agency highlighting the health costs of exhaust from diesel goods vehicles. Manchester is one of the areas highlighted by the report, as having a serious problem with diesel exhausts. This will be exasperated by Manchester City Council’s decision to expand Manchester Airports freight terminal. In fact the Aviation white-paper did not mention expanding freight terminals but, of the need to improve port and rail terminals to handle freight. The matter will be worsen for the people of South Manchester by the council’s plans to also build the Stockport to South Manchester by-pass. This is to be built despite the fact there is already an existing motorway connection from the airport and Stockport. Richard Leese, leader of Labour controlled Manchester City Council, was claimed he wanted to turn Manchester into another Barcelona. It could get his wish, as Manchester is not far behind Barcelona on diesel exhaust pollution.
Manchester City Council make decisions without any consultation with local communities. When they announce their plans, they then state they will have a consultation about their plans, which were decided months earlier. They are not going to change what they have already planned to do and have already engaged contractors to carry out the work. The council is so dishonest with its dealing with local communities, I cannot understand any company with a reputation deals with them. Is it a case of ‘profits before people’?
On Tuesday (12/02/13) a protester was dragged from a tree by Group 4 staff, causing him to fall against those who had pulled him down. The police then arrested him for assault and detained him. Also, felling continued within 10 metres of people, another breach of Health and Safety at Work Act. It has also been mentioned that all the timber has been sold to Westfields for £10,000. Some of the large mature hardwood trees would fetch more than that alone. So who is profiting from this destruction to a vital part of the City’s lungs?
There will will be a friendly candle-lit vigil around the pond on Sunday 17th 5.00pm – 6.30pm. For anyone who wants to quietly reflect on the trees that have been felled and who want to be surrounded by other understanding folk. This is a chance for like minded members of the community to unite in a peaceful way. Bring your candles, lanterns, and tea lights (small torches will come in handy too).
I was walking home (16:40, 6/2/13) from the 8th Day along Stretford Road, when I bumped into Nigel Murphy (Labour councillor for Hulme and the Environment). He told me he was waiting for a bus into town because he had been walking all day, then asked how were things with me. I mentioned they were not very good, (there are lots of things like Birley Fields and the lack of action by the council on climate change), especially with things like Alexandria Park. He mentioned people should read what it is really about and not listen to the protesters who are exaggerating the number of trees being felled. I said I had read the aborculturist’s report and that mature (maybe originally planted by the Victorians) were being felled when they were in good condition. I asked about the old green houses, they were not be restored, so how is this restoring the park to it former glory. Nigel replied that he remembered the greenhouses from a kid and walking in the park. And that the park was unsafe to walk in at night, and that this work was to make it safe. It was to make this park fit for today. If that is the case, then surely they have obtained funds falsely from the National Heritage Fund? The National Heritage Fund is about support the restoration of heritage assets and clearly this is not the council’s intention. Those who agreed to the council’s proposals seemed to of forgotten previous projects by the council, such as Piccadilly Gardens. Is that fit for today, what was done to Piccadilly Gardens? Alexandra Park Trees
Manchester City Council continue to show, that they are overwhelmingly not acting in the residents best interests, once again ignoring it’s electorate. It has almost total control of the council and acts as a dictatorship. This is to ensure that Bernstein and Leese build their ivory towers, ensuring the City of Manchester, is all fur-coat and no knickers: Mersey Valley warden service facing the axe.
Two must-read articles about Alexandra Park, where the chainsaws are moving in… (See our previous editorial on the subject here).
From the Hulme Green Party, “Alex Park protesters take to trees to stop “Felling Vandalism”
Manchester Green Party Chair Deyika Nzeribe commented “The campaign group has done everything right. They got over 2000 signatures asking for the plans to be reconsidered, they got local experts to show how the councils plans to be altered to preserve trees and they have been in dialogue with both the Council and funders the Lottery every step of the way. They have been completely ignored.
To draw a parallel, last week Manchester City Council made a great show of how unfair the cuts to local budgets were and how the government were ignoring them. The council are acting in exactly the same way as the government to this local issue.”
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A blog about how, despite all Manchester City Council’s rhetoric, provisions for urban cyclist is just about non-existent. Richard Leese, makes out he is a cyclist and uses public transport but I have not witnessed him on either. But he is a car owner and fought to keep a chauffeured limousine on the councils’ books for him to use. Also, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) formerly Greater Manchester Public Transport Executive (GMPTE), does not employ non-drivers. So, the very people who make decisions about pedestrian, cycling and public transport have no real experience of the issues of this large group of users. Unless there is a major change in Manchester’s leadership, Manchester will never have a public transport system fir for the 21st Century, or be pedestrian and cycling friendly.
This is a nice blog about a workshop on cycling, promoted by the Dutch that took place in Manchester. The writer is optimistic that something positive may come from this. Unfortunately, I believe the writer is naive and does not understand Manchester City Council and especially the Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM). The TfGM only employs motorists, so does not understand the needs of Public Transport users or cycles, their real priority is the motorist, like themselves.