Manchester City Council have voted to approve the recommendation to redesignate the Neighbourhood and Environment Scrutiny Committee as the Climate and Environment Scrutiny Committee. The full Council vote on Wednesday was in response to the recommendation made at the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee of 9 February, prompted by a campaign by Climate Emergency Manchester to increase scrutiny on decisions made and actions taken by the council to combat the climate emergency.
The Council will also review the remit of the remaining five scrutiny committees to reallocate responsibilities for homelessness and transport matters, freeing up the new Climate and Environment committee to deal solely with climate change and environmental concerns.
The new committee is responsible for scrutinising the Council’s work on:
- Environmental issues concerning the city
- The climate change strategy
- Street management
- Carbon emissions (and climate change)
- Neighbourhood working
- Flood management
- Planning policy and related enforcement
- Parks and green spaces
Although the motion to approve the new scrutiny committee arrangements was voted for unanimously in favour, there were concerns raised by councillor John Leech (Didsbury West):
“The success, or otherwise, of the committee will depend on how the committee chooses to pursue its role; how it builds relationships with other organisations that cannot be forced to participate but should be active partners in tackling climate change in Manchester.”
While the Council is only responsible for 2% of Manchester’s emissions, the new Climate & Environment Scrutiny Committee will hold the Council to account in its dealings with other stakeholders that contribute to the other 98%. The Council has maintained that all scrutiny committees will still consider the impact on climate change within their remits. This dedicated committee on climate and environment provides an opportunity to review, measure and influence Council policy on climate change issues.
A spokesperson for Climate Emergency Manchester welcomed the change in committee structure, but was sceptical about whether the newly named committee can live up to its pledges:
“Climate Emergency Manchester welcomes the decision to make climate change more central to one committee. We remain concerned that the remit of the Environment and Climate Change Scrutiny Committee makes no explicit reference to the carbon emissions of the city, nor whether this committee will scrutinise the Council–owned Manchester Climate Change Agency and Partnership. There was verbal reassurance offered during the meeting that the committee would deal with partnership work and the climate change strategy of the city. But will this prove to be the case?
“The report approved by full Council also recognised that tackling climate change continues to be a cross-cutting priority for the Council and all of its committees, and that other Scrutiny Committees should continue to scrutinise climate change issues in relation to matters that fall within their terms of reference. We welcome this sentiment but unless the work plan of each scrutiny committee for 2021-22 is reviewed to include items on the intersection of climate change and other issues within their remit, there is a risk that this ‘cross-cutting priority’ becomes ad hoc questions.”
The new Climate and Environment Scrutiny Committee is chaired by councillor Lee-Ann Igbon (Hulme), and it will hold its first meeting in May 2021.
The Council’s six scrutiny committees, which hold the Council to account for its policies, procedures and decisions, are now as follows:
- Children and Young People
- Communities and Equalities
- Environment and Climate Change
- Resources and Governance
You can read more about the responsibilities of each committee here.
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Feature image: Wikimedia Commons