Our Current Investigations
Air Quality Task and Finish Group
The Committee are very concerned about the very serious issue of poor air quality and the effect this has on the health of the residents of Manchester. Therefore at our July 2016 meeting we agreed to establish a Task and Finish Group to specifically look at this issue in detail.
To support the work of the group we held four substantive meetings, at which we had invited a range of academics and specialists in Air Quality, both local and nationally to come and share their expertise and knowledge with the group. The group were very grateful for their contribution to the group’s enquiry and contributed to the group’s final recommendations.
Contributors included the Head of Air Quality, Transport for Greater Manchester; Health Air Campaigner for Client Earth; Clinical Professor of Public Health Informatics - University of Manchester; Head of the Division of Population Health, Health Services Research and Primary Care - University of Manchester; Public Health England; Senior Research Fellow – The University of Manchester; Professor of Immunology, Senior Lecturer – School of Earth and Environmental Sciences; Head of Air Quality, Transport for Greater Manchester; Friends of the Earth; Lecturer in Respiratory Toxicology, Kings College London; Centre for Local Economic Strategies; Creative Concern; Sustrans North West; British Cycling; Living Streets and Bike Right.
In addition to the meetings with invited guests the group also undertook a series of field trips to witness the work of the monitoring station located at Piccadilly Gardens and to meet with the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Manchester.
The Chair on behalf of the group also undertook a series of evidence gathering interviews with a range of experts, both locally, nationally and internationally. These included the Director of Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership; Chief Planner, Greater Manchester Spatial Framework; Chair, Manchester Residential Standards; Director of Public Health, Oldham; Member of National Institute for Health and Care Excellence Air Quality Study Group; European Cyclists’ Federation, The Success of Seville/European Cyclist Federation; Bloomberg Cities; Gehl Architects, Copenhagen. The Chair then fed back his findings from these interviews to the group.
The group then met for the last time on the 2 November 2017 to agree the final report and recommendations. These agreed recommendations were then presented to the November 2017 meeting of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee where all of the recommendations were fully endorsed by the Committee. The Committee have asked for an update on the implementation of these recommendations in six months’.
All of the reports and minutes of the Air Quality Task and Finish Group meeting can be viewed online at:
Webcast meetings can also be viewed at:
21 June 2017 - Grenfell Tower Fire
Following the tragic event in London the Chair had invited the Deputy Leader and senior officers to attend the June meeting to discuss Manchester’s response to terrible events in London. A pre prepared statement was circulated to the Members that read:
‘Grenfell Tower fire - Manchester’s response
Following last week’s tragic event in London, the Council and its Housing partners have been working hard to provide information and assurance to all our residents who are living in high rise tower blocks (buildings over 6 storey’s) We understand that this is a deeply worrying time for all concerned and we are committed to doing everything we can to provide good advice and support.
Today, Joanne Roney, Manchester’s Chief Executive and the Deputy Leader met with senior officers from all our housing providers. This was followed by a meeting called by the Mayor with the Chief Fire Officer of Greater Manchester to agree the best way forward in terms of giving assurances and planning urgently what actions we should do as Landlords and jointly with the Fire and Rescue services.
What is clear, is that the picture is complicated with many of our tower blocks being built and altered at different times. Up until now the general advice has been for residents to stay in their flats unless they are directly affected by the fire or smoke, when they should leave and get out of the building. It is important to note that in the last 3 years, GM Fire and Rescue Services have dealt with 330 fires in apartments and flats in Greater Manchester and in all instances the fires have been contained within the apartment/flat and the advice to stay put has been effective.
Following the incident at Grenfell it is clear that in some instances this advice will need to be reviewed. Every social landlord will now be urgently reviewing and re-stating their fire safety advice for your block in the next few days, taking fire service advice where there is doubt. Following this, a fully comprehensive review of all tower blocks will be carried out jointly with the fire service, prioritising those blocks where we think the risk may be highest. Information gathered over the last few days will be used to guide our actions.
Many of our residents living in the City will be living in privately owned tower blocks. The City Council wants to ensure that private landlords and their agents afford the same duty of care to the residents of their high rise buildings. The Chief Fire Officer ultimately has the responsibility of enforcing fire safety standards but initially it is the responsibility of the landlord to complete a Fire Risk Assessment. We are urging all landlords to confirm with their tenants that such an assessment is in place and where there are any doubts, they should contact the Fire Officer to seek advice - tel number 0800 555815.
The meeting also agreed to consider what changes we should press Government to implement as part of the public enquiry announced by the Prime Minister. The City Council has already made representations to return all responsibility for Building Control inspections to Council’s.
Summary of the Year 2016/2017
Over the previous 12 months, the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee has continued to monitor a range of services that directly impact on residents across the city, such as waste collection and street cleaning, as well as monitoring the delivery of the City Council's plan to reduce carbon emissions by 41% from 2010 levels by 2020.
The Committee have continued to monitor waste and recycling levels following the introduction of the 140 litre grey bins that replaced the 240 litre black bins. The Committee recognised that this has had an impact on residents and they will continue to monitor the Biffa contract to ensure the residents of the city are best served. At the February meeting the Committee considered a petition that had been organised by a local traders association from Rusholme regarding waste and bins and they heard from the petition organiser and local ward members. A number of members of the Committee undertook a visit to the waste and recycling centre in Sharston.
The Committee also continued to monitor progress on climate change and carbon reduction. In recognition of the serious issue of poor air quality and the impact that this can have on the people of Manchester the Committee agreed to establish a Task and Finish Group to examine this issue in more detail. The membership of the group included members of the Health Scrutiny Committee. The group held a number of meetings and considered a number of reports and heard from a number of expert witnesses. The final report and recommendations of this group are to be submitted to the September meeting of the Committee.
The issue of homelessness is also a concern for the Committee and following the tragic death of two rough sleepers in the city centre the Committee invited the Executive Member for Adult Social Care to their December meeting to discuss this issue. The Committee then dedicated the majority of their February meeting to hear from Shelter, Centrepoint and Inspiring Change Manchester who described the work that they do to help people who are homeless or are facing the possibility of becoming homeless within the city.
21 June 2016 - Waste and Recycling
At the June meeting the Committee discussed the proposals to reduce the size of household waste bins and to increase the amount of recycling that residents do across the city.
The Executive Member for Neighbourhoods described the huge cost that Manchester has to pay for sending household waste to landfill sites. He said that although there had been improvements made in the levels of recycling, this activity needed to increase, especially food waste to make the financial savings needed.
The Executive Member for Neighbourhoods said that a number of alternatives had been considered, such as three weekly bin collections however the preferred option is to replace the 240 litre black bin with a 140 litre grey bin.
Members were told that this change over, if approved would be carefully managed so that all residents are kept informed as to the reasons why the change is happening. To support residents teams of staff will visit areas that are due to change over to deliver information leaflets and speak with residents to help them understand the changes and to help them recycle more.
The new bin grey bin will have a sticker with the property’s address on it and all the bins that are removed will be recycled. The Executive Member said that there are circumstances, such as medical reasons where a household would be eligible for a larger bin.
The members of the Committee said that they will continue to monitor the performance of Biffa and the City’s Strategic Waste Team. The Committee have asked that they a Quarterly performance dashboard report is provided to the members, with the first report being submitted to the October meeting.
Members of the Committee then discussed the issue of low recycling rates in apartment blocks and discussed how this could be improved. The Executive Member for Neighbourhoods said that the collection wagons will be fitted with weighing machines so they can easily collect data making it easier to identify any apartment block that is not recycling smaller amounts. By using this information staff can then work with the residents and the management company to look at ways of increasing the levels of recycling amongst the residents.
The members of the Committee also agreed to visit a local Household Waste and Recycling Centre later in the year.
Summary of the Year 2015/2016
The Neighbourhoods Scrutiny Committee looks at a wide range of services and issues in the city, including carbon emissions and climate change, highways, housing, planning, street management and waste. The Committee also looks closely at the work of the Growth and Neighbourhoods Directorate and examines how the services it delivers meet residents’ needs and expectations.
The Committee dedicated their meeting of the 29 September to environmental issues. This included an update on Manchester: A Certain Future and an update in the MCC Climate Change Action Plan. This provided members with an opportunity to review how Manchester was performing against the target of reducing city’s CO2 emissions by 41% by 2020 against 2005 levels.
The Committee is committed to scrutinising the implementation of the new Neighbourhoods Service which sees the integration of what was previously Neighbourhood Delivery Teams, Neighbourhood Regeneration Teams and Community and Cultural Services. The Committee are keen to ensure that neighbourhoods thrive and are places where people want to live. The Committee will continue to monitor the implementation of this new service in the next municipal year.
Members recognised that an important issue for residents is rubbish and associated fly tipping. To allow sufficient time and consideration for this important issue the Committee established a ‘Waste and Recycling Task and Finish Group’. This group agreed to monitor the implementation of the new waste collection contract that had been awarded. The group held five meetings where they received performance updates and discussed matters arising across the neighbourhoods. The group reported their conclusions and recommendations which included measure to promote and improve recycling rates across all wards to the November 2015 meeting. The final report can be accessed via the following link:
During the previous 12 months members undertook a number of visits to different sites to witness the delivery of services. This included a visit to the waste and recycling centre in Sharston and the new HOME cultural facility at First Street.
27 October 2015 - Progress update in relation to Rough Sleepers Strategy and a progress update on the recommendations of the Homelessness Task and Finish Group
The Committee discussed the Council’s response to the issue of Homelessness in the city. There had been a lot of recent media coverage and the Committee has a keen interest in this subject. The Committee established a Task and Finish Group in 2014 to investigate homelessness in detail. The group held a number of meetings over a period of five months and heard from various witnesses. These included charities, faith groups and other organisations working with homeless people across the city. The group also held a meeting attended by people who had first hand knowledge and experience of homelessness and invited them to share their experiences and ideas with the members. At the end of their investigation the group made ten recommendations based on the evidence they had received and heard. The final report and recommendations of the Homelessness Task and Finish Group can be read at -
This meeting provided members with an update on the actions that had been taken in response to the recommendations of the group. Councillor Paul Andrews, Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing said that the work of the Group had been invaluable in informing the Council’s response to the issue. The report described the range and variety of services available to provide early intervention and prevention of homelessness; developments around various types of accommodation and the services to assist people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. This had been funded by the Council using money made available through the Homeless Prevention Grant. The Committee were disappointed that the reporting in the local media had been negative and did not include any of the positive actions taken by the Council to help homeless people. The Committee were pleased with the developments described and said that it demonstrated that the Council was committed to working with partners to respond to the challenge of homelessness
21 July 2015 -Response to Manchester Evening News article alleging licences have been issued to drivers who have criminal/motoring conviction
At the July meeting the Committee received a full written response to the Manchester Evening News front page article published on 16 of December 2014. The paper had alleged that the Licensing Unit had issued licenses to drivers with serious criminal convictions.
The Chair had invited the Executive Member to the December 2014 meeting to speak to the Committee about these serious allegations. He had assured the Committee that he took the allegations very seriously and a full investigation had been launched and the findings of this investigation would be reported back to the Committee. This investigation was fully supported by the Chair of the Licensing and Appeals Committee who was also in attendance at the December meeting.
The findings of the investigation were detailed in the report at the July meeting. The report assured the Committee that a full check of licences issued had been undertaken and no driver has been found to have a conviction of the type alleged in the article. The report described the process used to assess applications by both officers and when applications are referred to a Licensing Panel for consideration. Members were also made aware of the published guidance that is applied when dealing with applicants who declare a criminal conviction. A copy of this guidance can be found at -
The Committee were reassured by the findings of the investigation and said that the news paper article was clearly sensationalised. The members called upon the Manchester Evening News to join with Manchester City Council in a thoughtful campaign to nationally reform the taxi and private hire licensing trade to make is a safer and an all round better service for the people of Manchester.
23 June 2015 - Manchester Renting Pledge Update
The Housing and Partnerships manager introduced the report. He said that 40 organisations have signed up to the pledge which was launched in March 2015. This represents some fifteen thousand properties in Manchester .
The Manchester Renting Pledge is designed to develop a quality private rented sector with well managed, desirable accommodation across the city. Enforcement activity across the city will continue to target the worst offenders in the private rented sector.
Members were also pleased on hearing that the same model of targeted activity will be adopted to address empty properties that have a detrimental effect on neighbourhoods.
26 May 2015 - Plastic Bag Petition: update report
The Councils Legal department confirmed that there is currently no legislation in force which gives Manchester the power to make a byelaw prohibiting use of plastic bag in it's area. Byelaws are intended to deal with local issues not national issues. Plastic bags have been recognised as a national issue by the UK Government, as set out in the Queen’s Speech in June 2014. Government is due to introduce a 5p charge for single use plastic bags from October 2015. It was recommended that an update should be provided to the Committee in six months time.
To find out more information have a look at our full work programme. This includes what topics we will be looking at, what specific issues we will be considering and who we will be hearing from. Please bear in mind that the programme is continually updated, and so dates and agenda items may change from those listed in the programme.
If there's an issue you want to contribute to, let us know. You can either send a written contribution to firstname.lastname@example.org or you can attend a meeting and ask the Chair if you can speak. You can also suggest a topic for us to look into by filling in our 'suggestions form.'
If you want to speak to somebody about contributing to the committee, please call our scrutiny support officer on 0161 234 3376 or e mail email@example.com.
Role of the Committee
Councillor Chris Paul
Chair of the Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee
"The Neighbourhoods and Environment Scrutiny Committee deals with many of the city council's services which are most visible to residents - housing, highways, the street environment, waste and recycling - and also monitors the council's planning and environmental policies, including our carbon reduction plans and climate change strategy.
The role of councillors serving on the committee is to ensure that our policies are fit for purpose and that we are delivering services which serve the interests of the people we represent. My role as chair is to make sure that members have all the information they need to ask the right questions and make appropriate recommendations to the council's executive as to how to best implement our policies and deliver our services.
In the year ahead we will:
- Continue to monitor the city council's plan to reduce carbon emissions by 41% from 2010 levels by 2020.
- Work to improve street cleaning and waste disposal services as we monitor the delivery of the contract with Biffa.
- Engage constructively with the city council to monitor and improve plans to increase recycling rates across the city.
A key focus for all members of the committee is ensuring that residents have the ability to influence local decision making through the scrutiny process and I would strongly encourage and warmly welcome any local residents or community groups who wish to attend our meetings, suggest items for future work or otherwise help us to conduct scrutiny effectively.
Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions and ideas.
Find out more
- You can read our agenda, minutes and reports here, as well as find future meeting dates.
- You can find out who's a member of the Committee here.