The Green Party has urged Labour to set out a more positive vision for Manchester’s future as the Conservatives conclude their conference in the city today.
The Greens successfully managed to pass an amendment to Labour’s motion calling for an immediate general election, specifically highlighting the Tories’ recent rollback of climate policies.
Speaking for the amendment, Green councillors outlined their proposed priorities for the future, including better public transport, building safer, more energy-efficient homes, and creating a comprehensive plan for green jobs and skills.
Cllr Astrid Johnson, leader of the Green Party on Manchester City Council, said: “We know that the climate and nature crisis affects all, but particularly children and especially those from poor and low-income families. The Government’s net-zero rollback is economic and environmental vandalism, and unforgivable.
“But would it not be more productive to lay out a positive vision for the future? Would a positive vision for change not make a change of government more likely?
“Let’s stop the negativity and whining about the past, but show ambition and create some hope. Let’s work together for a brighter and healthier future, for us and our children.”
Demonstrating this vision, Greens also successfully passed a motion to expand Manchester City Council’s use of selective licensing, which aims to improve conditions for renters by requiring all private landlords in designated areas to license their rented properties.
The motion aimed to build on the 13 selective licensing schemes and mandatory licensing of houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) that the council already has.
By passing the motion, the council has committed to liaise with the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham to extend the city’s ability to selectively license its private rented stock. Greens urged Labour to commit to licensing more than 20% of that stock.
Cllr Ekua Bayunu, deputy leader of the Greens on Manchester City Council and proposer of the motion, said: “We can no longer afford to let housing be a profit-making business for the few. Ratepayers’ money is lining the pockets of rogue landlords with a very poor service in return.
“Of course we need to build more homes for social renters, and more homes for affordable purchase. However, we also need to ensure that every home that is offered for rent in Manchester is safe, warm, free from damp and mould, and secure for every tenant. Perhaps then the council can say that its strategy is working.”
Cllr Anastasia Wiest, Green councillor in Woodhouse Park and seconder of the motion, said: “As a young person who has only lived in private sector rented accommodation in Manchester, I can vouch for the low quality of some properties.
“Besides improving the standards of living for the people of Manchester, an expansion of selective licensing would also be an opportunity to engage more with landlords around retrofitting their properties, with 84,000 homes needing to be retrofitted.
“This could play an important role in helping to increase the energy efficiency of our housing stock, which is absolutely necessary if we are serious about meeting our goal of making Manchester net-zero by 2038.”
Along with supporting Labour’s motion to make Manchester a ‘Co-operative Council’, Greens at today’s council meeting also put forward a motion against the Tory government’s proposed closure of staffed ticket offices.
The council committed to expressing its support for those taking action to oppose these measures. However, Greens left the meeting disappointed as Labour’s amendment of the motion significantly watered it down.
Cllr Rob Nunney, Green councillor in Woodhouse Park and seconder of the motion, said: “In 2020 transport made up 35% of Manchester’s direct greenhouse gas emissions, the majority from on-road vehicles. Rail travel will be crucial in reducing our emissions and avoiding the worst of what climate breakdown can unleash.
“Therefore everything possible must be done to make rail travel easier, cheaper and the preferred choice over flying and driving. Closing ticket offices is a regressive step which will hinder the most vulnerable people accessing public transport.”
Notes to editors:
The Green Party is the joint opposition party on Manchester City Council with four councillors. The Green group leader is Cllr Astrid Johnson. The deputy leader is Cllr Ekua Bayunu.
The four Green councillors on the council are Cllr Astrid Johnson, Cllr Anastasia Wiest and Cllr Rob Nunney, who represent the ward of Woodhouse Park, and Cllr Ekua Bayunu who has a seat in Hulme.
Manchester City Council is formed of 88 Labour members, four Greens, and four Liberal Democrats.
Cllr Astrid Johnson will be available for interview upon request.
For further information, please contact Chris Ogden at email@example.com.