On the Mayoral Green Commission

Portrait Bench: Kirkby

Photo by tommypatto~IMAGINE from Creative Commons.org

Recently, I attended a plenary meeting of the Liverpool Green Partnership at Blackburn House. Its purpose is to raise awareness, promote fresh, creative thinking and energy leading to Liverpool becoming a sustainable city, perhaps, obtaining UN Green City status or even becoming a Green European capital. It’s doing better than I thought, according to its base line survey. It s not doing very well on its ‘bins and recycling’, which is what I know most about, living here. At least, it’s honest. That’s a good start. I wonder how many people know that the elected Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has created this Commission. And even if everyone did know, what difference would it make? Liverpool has one of the lowest participation rates in the democratic process, yet is viewed not least by those who live here and, more widely from outside, as a radical city. Could this be an area where the city’s radical roots and its civic responsibility come together?

I watched a number of good presentations. The one which caught my eye most – for good and bad reasons – concerned Forest Schools. If you’ve never heard of them, they’re worth finding out about. Basically, they take children and their parents/carers/grandparents out into open spaces in and around the city and teach them woodcraft and play. They do wonderful stuff and I couldn’t help thinking of a group of young dads I’d met recently who probably didn’t know about Forest Schools, who would love this for themselves and their kids.

Sad in that we’re having to teach our kids how to play out in the woods and parks in organised groups. Memories from my own childhood popped up – playing out all day, climbing trees, falling out of trees, building dens and making friends and falling out again, amid the bombed out debris still around in Bootle in the 1960s.

Someone asked a question from the floor. ‘Liverpool City Council is currently building thousands of houses to the lowest building regulations,’ he said. ‘Could the Commission not influence the Council to adopt low carbon building regulations? This would save money in the long run with less maintenance. It would help tackle fuel poverty and reduce carbon emissions, they would be so well insulated. And it would create a green workforce, creating new jobs, increasing capacity.’ Was that visionary? It seemed common sense to me. So, why not do it? I remember pictures of the sparkly new towns of Skelmersdale and Kirkby and Runcorn in the 1970s, which gleamed and won awards but turned so quickly into rust buckets and dark alleys.

The Commission doesn’t have any funds of its own. It may put targets to its recommendations to the Mayor or it may not. Its five members, one of whom is a woman, are representative of the local community, said its Chair. It was unclear to me if any of the other panel members came from local communities in the city.

On our table, one man spoke about there being no ‘buy-in’ from the majority of people in Liverpool to this. ‘It’s the same faces here as there were two years ago at the Low Carbon event,’ he said. ‘There is no civic movement for the green economy.’

It does seem a real opportunity for Liverpool to make the most of its creative capital in people, ideas and resources in building homes and creating jobs for a sustainable today. Will it take advantage of it? I hope so.


Submit your own piece to the Commission and further details can be found here http://liverpool.gov.uk/mayor/mayoral-commissions/commission-on-environmental-sustainability

On Forest Schools… http://www.merseyforest.org.uk/our-work/forest-school

7 thoughts on “On the Mayoral Green Commission

  1. The commission is about as representative as the Con-Dem cabinet. This Mayor thinks the city’s future lies in expanded air travel, international tourism and ‘doing international business’. He wants cars not buses. There is nothing local or sustainable or green in that thinking.. This commission is a window dressing exercise that cannot be taken at all seriously.

  2. A lot of food for thought here. I have an interest in this, even though I have moved to the dark side of the river! The same principles still apply, as I believe the one organisation (Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority) deals with all aspects of waste. I do know that we have a skip in our block of flats and Wirral Council take these away fortnightly. They include cardboard, paper, glass, tins etc. What is confusing is that some types of plastic cannot be recycled such as margarine tubs, yet other types of plastic can.
    We have our politicians continually making announcements on green issues but very little is done compared to some of our friends in Europe.
    Joe Anderson could do with answering a number of questions.and as Chris rightly says he is more interested in cars.
    Bring back the bus lanes now, no extending trial period , they work in London, they can work here.
    Every new home to be built with solar panels, I must admit I am not sure if this is already mandatory.
    More cycle lanes across the region.
    Do more to encourage recycling, make it easier and after a period of time fine those that don’t.
    Someone in authority decided for the best of reasons to make low energy light bulbs mandatory.
    This is the biggest con going, I have loads of the new type that have failed and we are asked not to dispose of them in normal waste. Make it easier to recycle electrical waste.
    Already I hear squeals of anguish! I do know people that are just too lazy to bother.
    Talk is easy, action is needed but politicians local and government lack the will being unable to see beyond their next term in office.

  3. The issue is; “How many people truly care?” We live in a very ‘greedy’ society where a population want the latest fads and fashions; have no time because of their ‘busy’ lives which include their leisure activities (holidays; computer; TV; going for meals; mobile/ipads etc). As the man rightly pointed out; ‘It’s the same faces here as there were two years ago at the Low Carbon event,’. I would estimate therefore less than 1% truly care while about 20% care enough to do the basics of recycling.
    The only real way to get people to care enough is to impose fines; to make it illegal not to recycle yet then we get cries of ‘Big Brother is watching’ ‘This is a Nanny state’ but sadly in our society only money talks and the threat of losing it will spur more to recycle. Remember the passing of laws about seat belts and wearing motorcycle helmets; even the smoking bans…. it can be done; but like I said, those who should support it would then scream about a Facist state and mock those who sent to enforce it.
    I did not know about the commission… which does not surprise me; in an age of technology and information very little manages to infiltrate into the average household of what happens in our city. I do have to disagree with Chris though. Surely, despite who set it up; anything is better than nothing? The fact there is a commission will at least make one or two people think about the future; aka Mr Kennedy.

  4. John writes…..and picking up on our conversation from a bandnight a few weeks ago; how can they propose building ‘luxury homes’ on Sefton Park Meadows??

  5. Tim & others have said it all. But as probably your oldest subscriber I feel I can say ‘been there, done that’ but to no avail; and that’s why I no longer exercise my hard won (by others) democratic vote and trust noone who wants to be a politician! Sorry Bernie! Keep up your optimism & idealism as long as you can! Mx

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