Smallpea, W. (2000) Local Agenda 21. Magpie 47, p.9
by Witha Smallpea (our political correspondent)
Once again, Local Agenda 21 (LA21) has been kick-started in Manchester. It’s one that Anthony has been involved in (very early on). Then Ian worked very hard, and the process actually produced a draft document. Then there was a long period of nobody knowing whether it was still breathing, or had given up and was pushing up the daisies.
I can report that the Council have greased LA2 l’s tappets, and the engine is now running again. The structure is quite tight, there being an “upper echelon”, or Forum of representatives. As you can imagine, the voluntary sector just have one seat on this Forum, titled “Interest Groups”. When this “Partnership Group” was formed, Manchester Friends of the Earth (Man FoE) were the “Interest Group” representative. Recently, Man FoE’s representative has “left”, and no one else was available to take up the vacant seat, so Man FoE pulled out of the Forum.
Manchester Wildlife were recently invited to join a coalition group. Anthony attended the first meeting. We decided to call ourselves “Action 21”, with the intention of bidding for the vacant “Interest Groups” seat on the Partnership Group of LA21. We put our bid in the other Friday, and, as yet, I have heard nothing about whether or not we have been successful. What I find exciting about Action 21 is that we are already doing what the process says we should be doing – ie. involving other groups in our area, with true two-way consultation. I don’t know whether any of the other representatives can say that.
What is important is that we will continue to meet, and share ideas, and putting the best of these forward into LA21’s melting pot of ideas, even if we are unsuccessful with our bid. We are, and will continue to keep in contact, and hopefully widen our group to include other in-terested groups, not just environmental groups. I really believe the council think that we are all separate groups, and don’t bother talking to each other – how wrong they are!
Anthony put forward a couple of interesting ideas (which we’d discussed at a previous Manchester Wildlife business meeting) for con-sideration by Action 21 – mainly concerning nest boxes for specific target species, namely Swifts and Peregrine Falcon. He has up-to-date information concerning designs from Judith Smith, and will soon be attempting to interest companies that own tall buildings in the City Centre to put up Peregrine nest boxes. If you can help with this, please contact Anthony (address at the front). Also, if you want a design of a Swift nest box to put under the eaves of your house, again, contact Anthony. He’s also got details of a supplier for the boxes, for those unwilling or unable to construct their own.
I will keep you updated on the progress of “Action 21” in future editions, but it is quite exciting to be able to report on serious co-operation amongst sometimes quite different groups in the City. Long may it last’