Action 21

Once again, Local Agenda 21 (LA21) has been kick started in Manchester. The process has been through a few reincarnations, and at one time the process actually produced a draft document. Then there was a long period of nobody knowing whether it was still breathing, or just pushing up the daisies.

This time, the structure is quite tight, with an "upper echelon", or Forum of Representatives. As you can imagine, the voluntary sector have just one seat on this Forum, entitled "Interest Groups". When this "Partnership Group" was formed, Manchester Friends of the Earth (MFoE) were the "Interest Group" representative. Recently, MFoE's representative has left the group and they've elected not to currently take up the available seat.

Manchester Wildlife were recently invited to join a coalition of local groups, and we met in the Town Hall, and decided to call ourselves "Action 21", with the intention of bidding for the vacant "Interest Groups" seat on the Partnership Group of LA21. We submitted our bid, but were, unfortunately, unsuccessful (some might say we should have expected to fail). Cynics might also say that the council may be afraid that, in acting like we are (involving other groups in our area with true two way consultation) that we are actually doing what the LA21 process should be doing, and that the other representatives might be "embarrassed" into doing the same. The new representatives (yes, the council were unable to decide, or toss a coin!) are Red Rose Forest and CTAC. It appears that these groups have a "track record", and probably their logos will look better on the council's documents.

What is important is that Action 21 will continue to meet, and share ideas, and put the best of these forward into LA21's melting pot of ideas, and more importantly, let other groups know about the process, and how they can get involved. We are, and will continue to, keep in contact, and hopefully widen our group to include other interested 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 Phelps, Manchester Wildlife

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(c) Networking Newsletter (April/May 2000)