Magpie 37 – LA21 launch

Brown, I (1996). LA21 launch. Magpie 37, pp. 11-12

LA 21 Launch by Ian Brown

The public launch of the Manchester Local Agenda 21 took place at the Town Hall on Thursday the 28th of March. The organisation was good but the security was a little overbearing, considering this was supposed to be a “public” event. The public would have had a job getting in. Some of the speeches were a different matter. We were warned by Joint Forum Chair, Prof. Ian Douglas, that the speakers were representing their sectors, not the LA 21 Forum, but we were still not quite prepared. Hilary Brooke from the Manchester University Settlement did a creditable job but I missed a lot before the microphone was turned on and Lucy Ingham, representing the youth sector, raised a few laughs but talked too fast for taking notes, probably through nerves. 

However, in-between things were not quite so good. Ken Franklin, representing the Council, started off by saying he wanted to talk about the past, “I’ll come to the future in a minute’. He used to be a very good skuller! He said that he could not give in to those who wanted to pedestrianise the city centre as it would turn it into a desert. A speaker from the floor named 12 cites in Britain where pedestrianisation had improved them economically and if done in Manchester would turn the centre into an oasis. Geoff Muirhead (Airport) was representing the business sector. He started off by saying Local Agenda 21 would enable society to move towards a more sustainable future, which meant “not living off our capital but off our interest’ (Richard Jefferies I think). A good start, he’ll be cancelling Runway II next, I thought. “The board of Manchester Airport are committed to sustainable development. Tourism, leisure, 2nd runway, meeting the demand for air travel, the demand for car parking ‘. He’s talking about unsustainable development! Then the 50,000 extra jobs and 50.000 more if the second runway is built – the usual claptrap and propaganda. At the end of the proceedings. Mr. Muirhead was presented with a sod of earth topped by a flag bearing the words. “Bollin Valley°. Just about sums it up really. He even allowed a photographer to snap the happy occasion. 

With a Planning Committee Chair and an airport boss of such calibre, does LA 21 really stand a chance in Manchester.

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