Leese criticised delays in spending 1 million as unacceptable

Big Issue North 16-22 February 2009

The leader of Manchester City Council,Richard Leese, has criticised delays in spending £1 million to tackle climate change as unacceptable and insisted that the council “start delivering actual programmes” with the money.

In February 2008 the council pledged £1 million to help slash the city’s annual C02 emissions by a million tonnes by 2020. But the money lies unspent due to a lack of clear plans or projects to invest the money in.

In August last year a council spokesperson claimed it was within weeks of announcing a series of commercial and sustainable plans. These plans, however, never emerged and a council report from last month now says the local authority is still exploring options.

These options are now being considered by the council’s environmental strategy board, according to Beverley Taylor, head of environmental campaigns. She said the delay was to ensure the council had the correct strategy in place and that “we get it right”.

Manchester’s Green Party chair, Brian Candeland, said the council’s inaction was a “bad sign sign” and the recent report was a step back as it lacked “substance, targets or any solid commitments”. He said: “A good way for the money to be spent is to improve the insulation of domestic and council properties, and even pushing for free home insulation. This can make a big difference with the money if it is spent properly and protect those at risk of fuel poverty,especially among the elderly.”

Tim McMahon of Manchester’s Sustainable Neighbourhoods Pool, a community forum on housing and regeneration, said: “As far as the £1 million carbon reduction innovation and investment fund is concerned, I’m pretty sure that climate change can’t be combated by throwing money at it.

“The most effective action is free – behavioural and attitudinal change – but then perhaps the money should be spent on education. To understand a problem is often the key to solving it.”

ARWA ABURAWA

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