Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Unelected Liveable Exeter Place Board created to oversee city from the shadows

Exeter City Council has convened an unelected board that meets in private, does not publish its discussions or decisions and is taking responsibility for major policies which will determine Exeter's future.

Liveable exeter place board   Exeter city council   Property development   Spatial development   Accountability   Transparency  

An assembly of the great and the good described by Exeter City Council’s chief executive, Karime Hassan, as “conscientious, talented people from all backgrounds who want to work in the best interests of the city” has been meeting in private in recent months.

Its membership is unelected, it does not publish its discussions or decisions and it is taking responsibility for major policies which will determine Exeter’s future.

The city council has had a predilection for such bodies for some time: recent arrangements have apparently included the Greater Exeter Visioning Board, the Exeter Local Transport Steering Board and the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan working group.

Each of these other attempts at collaboration, however opaque, have largely been driven and constituted by local authorities. This new initiative goes much further in its scope, its membership and its agenda.

Exeter College Hele Road campus construction site Exeter College Hele Road campus construction site

What is now known as the Liveable Exeter Place Board started life in July 2019 when the council’s executive agreed a recommendation from its chief executive, Karime Hassan, to establish a Liveable Exeter Garden City Board.

The purpose of the new board was described as “the vehicle through which Exeter will ensure that the desired transformational housing agenda known as Liveable Exeter Garden City is achieved” and “to support Exeter in its mission to be recognised as a leading sustainable city and global leader in addressing the social, economic and environmental challenges of climate change and urbanisation”.

The garden city programme vision had been approved by the executive and the full council in February 2019.

Mr Hassan’s recommendation continued: “The overarching aim of the board is to provide its constituent local authorities (Exeter and Devon County Council) and partners with a forum in which to address collaboratively issues relating to housing delivery, place shaping, economic development, clean growth, and carbon neutral development at a city and sub-regional level and to enable collective decision-making on issues that require agreement from the constituent authorities and other key public sector stakeholders” (our emphasis).

Mr Hassan nevertheless stressed that nothing in the proposal was to be read as incorporating any executive functions properly exercised by councils.

The recommendations were adopted by Exeter City Council in July 2019. The chief executive was authorised to settle the terms of reference and to identify suitable members for the board, then report back to the executive when this was done.

No such report was ever received. The leader of the city council, Phil Bialyk, justified this at the June Executive committee meeting in response to a question from Councillor Diana Moore by saying: “The original draft terms of reference agreed by Council have not been amended in any meaningful way. Hence we have not reported back to Executive.”

Independent small businesses in Gandy Street Independent small businesses in Gandy Street

The failure to report back to the executive meant that the membership of the board was not made public.

An enquiry to the council’s press office from Exeter Observer elicited a membership list. We subsequently established that a significant number of city councillors did not know who was on the board, a point only recently rectified at a private briefing for elected members.

The chair is Sir Steve Smith, the about-to-retire vice chancellor of Exeter University. He has been a non-executive director of the Unite Group since April 2020. Unite is a major provider of purpose-built student accommodation, including at three locations in Exeter.

He is also a board member of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) which describes its role as “the main thought-leader influencing economic development in the HotSW area”. It aims to deliver the Local Industrial Strategy alongside “transformational opportunities” focussed on nuclear power, aerospace and maritime industries. It is responsible for many developments across the region including numerous road building schemes.

A significant number of other place board members have known property and land interests.

Steve Hindley, until recently chair of the HotSW LEP, is chair and chief executive of Midas Group, a regional construction company that has built, among other things, several student accommodation blocks in Exeter and elsewhere.

Paul Crawford is chief executive of Livewest, a provider of affordable housing in the south west. He is also chair of lobby group Homes for the South West which argues that the government should prioritise the sale of public sector land for affordable housing.

The Earl of Devon is a major local landowner. His family seat at Powderham Castle comprises 3,500 acres of land including four farms, 33 houses and three miles of foreshore. He is an elected hereditary member of the House of Lords and a partner at legal firm Michelmores.

Julian Tagg, president of Exeter City Football Club is a director of OTR (Exeter) Ltd, a property management company.

Charles Johnston, Sport England’s Executive Director of Property, is a former Director of Construction and Facilities at Sainsbury’s.

Glenn Woodcock is a director of Oxygen House Group which owns Grenadier Estates, a residential and commercial property development company. He is also a director of Global City Futures, the consultancy behind Exeter City Futures, and sits as a governor of Exeter College alongside fellow place board members John Laramy and Matt Roach.

Tony Rowe, chairman and chief executive of the Exeter Chiefs also holds directorships in property companies.

Lady Studholme, chair of the trustees at the Northcott Theatre is, according to her Linkedin profile, a partner in the substantial Perridge Estate owned by her husband, Sir Harry Studholme, Baronet.

John Laramy, principal and chief executive of Exeter College is also a HotSW LEP board member as well as a member of the Chartered Institute of Building.

Matt Roach is managing director of Exeter International Airport and also chair of Exeter Chamber of Commerce & Industry, which represents the interests of numerous companies which are involved in property development in and around Exeter.

The major public sector institutions in the city are also represented: University of Exeter, Exeter College, Met Office, Royal Devon & Exeter hospital trust, Devon & Cornwall Police and both Devon County Council and Exeter City Council. Most of these organisations are substantial land and property owners in their own right.

At some point between July 2019 and May 2020 the Liveable Exeter Garden City Board morphed into the Liveable Exeter Place Board. A report to the city council’s executive meeting in June about plans for the city’s recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 virus explained the board’s role in the following terms:

“The Liveable Exeter Place Board brings together all the major organisations in the city as well as private and voluntary sector figures. It allows for frank and candid confrontation of the issues they face in a manner that supports collaboration through a common purpose. The issues involved with a recovery plan for the city are broader than the city council and will benefit from being adopted by the place board.”

The recovery plan is split into seven work streams which were already active at the time of the report to councillors. Six are chaired by place board members:

  • Business support - Matthew Roach (Managing Director, Exeter Airport)
  • City centre - John Laramy (Principal, Exeter College)
  • Visitor economy - Charles Courtenay (Earl of Devon)
  • Transport - Mike Watson (Managing Director, Stagecoach South West)
  • Construction and development - Sir Steve Smith (Vice-Chancellor, University of Exeter)
  • Community wellbeing - Dinah Cox (Chair, Devon Community Foundation)

Each work stream has a lead council officer and is overseen by a member of the council’s senior management board which itself meets in private. The report did not identify a chair for the education work stream

At its June meeting the council’s executive agreed that the board should “adopt” the city’s coronavirus recovery plan and at the same time that it should also adopt the “Net Zero” Exeter plan intended to make the city carbon neutral by 2030. Bizarrely, this second decision was recorded as the place board adopting the “Liveable Exeter Place plan”.

At its July meeting the council’s executive then agreed to add oversight of the Sport England local delivery pilot to the board’s portfolio. This gives the Liveable Exeter Place Board responsibility over four major city council policies and programmes (including the original garden city project).

Exeter City Football Club St James Park Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand Exeter City Football Club St James Park Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand

Exeter Observer’s initial enquiries revealed that the place board did have specific terms of reference but the city council’s spokesperson said only that: “its principal focus is to support the council in achieving and promoting its vision for the city”.

In response to a question about openness the spokesperson said: “Minutes of the board are not published owing to the commercial and sensitive nature of some discussions – but any matters requiring council decisions or scrutiny would be progressed through the normal decision-making pathways and minutes produced accordingly”.

Exeter Observer subsequently wrote to all non-council board members on the list provided by the council. We asked each member two questions: what they saw the board’s role as being in practice, and how they would describe their personal contribution to the board’s work.

Only two replied, saying in effect that they could not comment until the board had discussed the issues we raised. A senior council officer then made contact to say that the board would collectively discuss our questions at its next meeting on 8 July.

We responded by requesting that our concerns about the confidentiality of board proceedings would be addressed. This request was made in the context of a remark by Councillor Ollie Pearson, the council’s executive member for leisure and physical activity, at a Strategic Scrutiny committee meeting on 2 July when he referred to the place board as providing “the best and most transparent oversight” of the Sport England pilot.

The place board met on 8 July, after which the city council issued the following statement in the name of its chief executive and growth director, Karime Hassan:

“We are hugely grateful to the board for giving up their valuable time. They have adopted a vision of Exeter that is based on the premise of better life for all.

“It is a vision that a district council couldn’t achieve on its own. There are all manner of challenges that the city needs to overcome.

“Exeter is stronger for having conscientious, talented people from all backgrounds who want to work in the best interests of the city.

“It shouldn’t be confused with a district council. Any decisions requiring council permission or funding are part of a transparent and democratic process that is the envy of the world.”

Had the date been right, the final sentence might reasonably have been viewed as an April Fool’s joke: the city council cut scrutiny of its own decision-making in October last year.

Independent small businesses beside Exeter Central Station Independent small businesses beside Exeter Central Station

The city council’s acknowledgement that it cannot meet the challenges facing Exeter on its own is welcome and realistic. The council has set itself a huge and far-reaching agenda which, if implemented, would lead to major changes in the shape of the city and the way people interact with it.

Setting up a group of advisers in response to such challenges is an approach with ample precedent in central government, where transparent expert advisory committees are (or at least were) a standard feature of policy-making.

In practice, however, the Liveable Exeter Place Board has not got off to a good start against some of the claims made for it.

The council claims that the board’s membership is “diverse” but the facts do not bear this out. For example, in terms of gender, it is male-dominated: only four of its 24 members are women. In terms of representation, its business members are from the construction, tourism, transport and sport sectors, with the rest from the usual pool of public sector bodies with a dash of high culture thrown in.

There is no seat round the table for the retail, food or hospitality sectors, nor for the small, independent businesses that are integral to the city’s economy. No one on the board appears able to claim recent experience of the hardship, disadvantage and poverty experienced by many Exeter residents. No one speaks for community groups (the Devon Community Foundation is a grant-giving body).

Nor does council coyness about the board’s role and activities inspire trust. Roles sketched out for the original board in July 2019 included (our emphasis):

  • Develop and set joint investment strategies for the city and sub-region
  • Develop an infrastructure plan in support of the Liveable Exeter Garden City and as and when required the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan and associated sub-regional transport strategy
  • Consider and prioritise bids for external funding, including leading on housing, industrial and other appropriate deals
  • Consider, approve and implement decisions relating to Exeter and as appropriate subregional investment, including expenditure of external funding within the sub-region.

We do not know whether these functions found their way into the place board’s terms of reference, as the council has not provided that level of detail. If they did, then these are important matters in which there is significant public interest. Not all these actions will necessarily come to the city or county councils for formal decisions to be made and so will not be exposed to “a transparent and democratic process that is the envy of the world”.

The composition of the board also raises questions about level playing fields and competitiveness. Are, for example, the construction and transport companies whose bosses sit on the board getting an inside track into development and funding plans not available to their competitors? There is no suggestion that they are, but there is no objective reassurance that they are not.

The city belongs to all of us who live or work here, not just a group of selected “leaders”. Exeter Observer challenges the Liveable Exeter Place Board to publish, as a minimum, the dates of its meetings and their agendas, the attendees at each meeting, declarations of interest, a summary of what was discussed and any decisions taken or advice tendered to local authorities.

Without these minimal accountability provisions, suspicion and lack of trust will inevitably undermine the potential for good that the board might otherwise have.


Correction: This article originally said that John Laramy, principal and chief executive of Exeter College, is also a director of Exeter City Futures. In fact Rob Bosworth, vice principal and deputy chief executive of Exeter College, is a director of Exeter City Futures.


Update: The following additions to the board’s membership were reported to the city council’s executive at its meeting on 1 September 2020:

  • The Right Reverend Robert Atwell, Bishop of Exeter
  • Mike Gallop, Western route director, Network Rail
  • Claire Kennedy, licensee and curator, TEDxExeter
  • Kalkidan Legesse, social entrepreneur and managing director at Sancho’s shop

Sir Steve Smith has also since retired as vice-chancellor of the University of Exeter, but remains chair of the Liveable Exeter Place Board.

In addition to his non-executive directorship at student accommodation provider Unite Group, he has been appointed the UK’s first International Education Champion.

A seat on the Liveable Exeter Place Board has been created for his successor as vice-chancellor, Professor Lisa Roberts.


 is contributing editor of Exeter Observer and a member of its publisher Exeter Observer Ltd.

 


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News  ⁄  Transport & mobility

Council abandons temporary COVID-19 cycling and walking safety plans in Exeter city centre

Devon County Council cites "pushback" from traders as schemes on North Street, South Street, Fore Street and Cowick Street are scrapped. Meanwhile temporary changes in Topsham are dropped after "snap poll".

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Net Zero Exeter 2030 plan proposals vs Exeter territorial emissions vs Exeter carbon footprint bar chart

Analysis  ⁄  Climate & environment

Is the "Net Zero" Exeter plan fit for purpose? Part I: Exeter's carbon footprint

Exeter City Futures' carbon reduction plan ignores over a million tonnes of carbon emissions and massively underestimates the challenges facing the city. First in a series examining its flaws by Fridays For Future youth climate activists.

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Great Western Hotel beside Exeter St David's railway station

Analysis  ⁄  Community & society

Exeter rough sleepers in COVID-19 emergency accommodation face uncertain future

Exeter City Council has yet to confirm whether it will use any of the £2.15m Rough Sleeping Initiative funding it has received since 2018 to keep housing rough sleepers when government emergency accommodation funding runs out.

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Exeter City Futures Net Zero Exeter 2030 plan

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter City Council accepts climate emergency plan to make city carbon neutral by 2030

Chief Executive warns that resourcing the plan is "problematic" given COVID-19 financial challenges and that lack of resources limits the council's capacity for immediate practical action.

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Cyclists, pedestrians and cars compete for space on Union Road, Exeter, 1 June 2020

News  ⁄  Transport & mobility

Devon County Council fails to deliver promised COVID-19 cycling and walking infrastructure

Deadline for action on social distancing for safe travel set by county cabinet member passes despite Devon receiving £1.7 million share of government emergency fund.

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Exeter Cathedral and Quay car park top deck

News  ⁄  Transport & mobility

Coronavirus halts decision to spend £3.9 million on car park repairs and upgrade

Exeter City Council spending plans will be revisited in June at same time as Net Zero Exeter carbon reduction plan is discussed by Executive.

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Cranbrook town centre development site empty plots

News  ⁄  Planning & place

Cranbrook town centre community building application submitted

Devon County Council is to develop new town centre facilities including a children's centre with public health nursing provision, youth centre with indoor and outdoor recreational spaces and library with small café.

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Night shelter for homeless and rough sleepers in Magdalen Street, Exeter (front)

News  ⁄  Community & society

Exeter rough sleepers night shelter to open all year round

Exeter City Council has approved plans to extend Magdalen Street night shelter opening from April to the end of September.

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Exeter Princesshay deserted under COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown

News  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter City Council announces £1.584m April budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 restrictions

Council revenues have fallen dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting a £6.357 million capital spending deferment. But financial support from government has so far been limited.

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Small retail businesses on Paris Street, Exeter

News  ⁄  Economy & enterprise

Half of COVID-19 support grants unclaimed by Exeter businesses

Exeter City Council in bottom third of local authorities as only 45% of eligible local businesses claim government coronavirus support money.

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Exeter University & College Union strike third week rally at St David's Church - Billy Bragg concert

News  ⁄  Education & skills

University of Exeter strike ends third week with rally and concert at St David's Church

The Exeter branch of the University & College Union (UCU) is taking part in four weeks of national industrial action over pensions, equal pay for female and BAME staff, increasing workloads and the use of casual employment contracts.

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Exeter City Council accounts delayed by auditors Grant Thornton

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter & East Devon council accounts delayed by Grant Thornton's "lack of staff resources"

Annual accounts for local government, including Exeter City Council, have been delayed by private sector firms failing to complete their work on time after cost-cutting government auditing reforms.

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2019 parliamentary elections - Devon Conservative vote share change bar chart

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Conservative vote share varies across Devon but still blocks an Independent MP in East Devon

Labour loses vote share in every constituency, but retains Exeter and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport to leave the county position unchanged from 2017.

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Exeter election polling station

News  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Conservatives hold Topsham in Exeter city council by-election

A by-election held on general election day produced an unusually high turnout but a lower Conservative vote share than at the May local elections.

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East Devon Independent Claire Wright 2019 general election candidate

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

East Devon Independent Claire Wright set to unite Remain voters in close historic two-way contest

Claire Wright is poised to make history by beating the Tories in East Devon next week. If she does it will be without thanks to the LibDems and Greens, who insisted on standing candidates against her despite the preferences of local party members and the Unite to Remain campaign.

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Striking University of Exeter history lecturers Dr Jennifer Farrell and Dr Gemma Clark

News  ⁄  Education & skills

University of Exeter staff strike over pay, pensions and working conditions

The Exeter branch of the University & College Union (UCU) is taking part in a national eight day strike for fair pay and pensions, including equal pay for female and BAME staff, and against casualisation and increasing workloads.

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Heart of the South West Local Industrial Strategy branding

Analysis  ⁄  Economy & enterprise

Will a new South West industrial strategy deliver what it promises?

Our business-led Local Enterprise Partnership appears committed to a new approach to driving growth which its CEO describes as "game-changing".

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2019 Devon County Council Heavitree & Whipton Barton by-election Exeter vote share swing bar chart

News  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter Labour support collapses in Heavitree & Whipton Barton county by-election

Greg Sheldon wins Devon County Council division by just 40 votes after Labour loses nearly a fifth of its previous vote share.

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Exeter City Council cuts executive decision-making scrutiny

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter City Council cuts scrutiny of executive decision-making

Constitutional changes proposed by Exeter City Council will make it more difficult to hold the ruling political group to account.

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Exeter Global Climate Strike demonstrator holding placard

Analysis  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter youth climate strikers launch Green New Deal for Devon

Fridays For Future Exeter have published a detailed vision of a more equitable future that calls on elected representatives across the county to recognise the climate crisis as a symptom of a dysfunctional political economy.

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Exeter Global Climate Strike Bedford Street crowd

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Thousands march in Exeter for global climate strike as millions mobilise worldwide

Fridays for Future Exeter led 3500 people on a climate crisis demonstration through the city backed by dozens of organisations on the eve of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

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Rhian Keyse speaking at Exeter UCU's anti-casualisation campaign launch

News  ⁄  Education & skills

Education union challenges university to address widespread casualisation of teaching staff

Exeter University & College Union (UCU) launched an anti-casualisation campaign on Friday as a prelude to negotiation with the University of Exeter over academic staff contracts.

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Exeter anti-government protest Devon for Europe speaker

Comment  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter protest misses its mark by mixing its messages

One of Exeter's biggest ever street demonstrations combined anti-Brexit and pro-democracy concerns to produce a confused protest against government policy.

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Exeter Extinction Rebellion funeral march climate crisis High Street

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Mock funeral march brings Exeter city centre to a sombre standstill

Extinction Rebellion campaigners brought the gravity of the ecological emergency home to Exeter on Saturday in a funereal procession commemorating wildlife loss caused by climate change.

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Exeter City Council public toilet closures Exeter Live Better hoarding

Comment  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter could do better - was there no alternative to closing so many public toilets?

Exeter City Council did not need to close thirteen public toilets to balance the books. The money to keep them open was available in reserves, but no mention of this option was made during public decision-making by councillors or officers.

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Exeter City Council public toilet closure notice

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Caught short - balancing the books in a hurry

Exeter City Council has unapologetically confirmed its decision to close 13 public toilets as a money-saving measure with full knowledge of its expected effect on residents and visitors. Can we expect other spending cuts to be handled the same way?

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Preston Street Union present SERGE/SURGE at Cricklepit Mill

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Preston Street Union rolls out the red carpet

The Exeter-based artists explore migration driven by the city's historic wool trade in new work commissioned by RAMM.

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Exeter Youth Strike 4 Climate protestors with banner

Comment  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter Youth Strike 4 Climate - the floodgates are open

Exeter is one of the smallest cities in Britain, yet it has produced some of the country's biggest youth strikes. Climate activist Sophie Sleeman recounts the story so far and explains what it means to the young people who are creating a global wave of change.

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Photo of The Jambassadors by Gabe Riedlinger

Preview  ⁄  Arts & culture

Jambassadors feature in pop-up Jazz Toast at Barnfield Theatre

Musical director Roz Harding invites us to join an Exeter College Music Academy student collective in a one-night-only experimental exploration of in-the-moment improvisation.

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Extreme Imagination - inside the mind's eye exhibition at Exeter RAMM

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Extreme Imagination - Inside the Mind's Eye

University of Exeter research fellow Dr Matthew MacKisack guides us through a RAMM exhibition that explores works by artists, writers and makers with widely varying visual imaginations.

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Molly Scott Cato at the European Parliament

Profile  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Is EU membership essential to our ability to deal with the climate emergency?

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, visited Exeter during her re-election campaign to explain why the EU and its Green Group is leading the way on a wide range of progressive policies.

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Front elevations of proposed development at Mount Radford Lawn

Analysis  ⁄  Planning & place

Mount Radford Lawn development proposals conflict with St Leonards community vision

Exeter Deaf Academy hopes to sell a school playing field to developers who plan to build luxury homes. Local residents have other ideas about how best to use the land. A dispute is looming over an historic green space driven by prospective profit from planning gain.

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Exeter College students in A Midsummer Night's Dream at Barnfield Theatre

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Playing with gender expectations at Barnfield Theatre

An Exeter College interpretation of A Midsummer Night's Dream transforms it into an enchanting contemporary gender-adapted tale.

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Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019

Preview  ⁄  Arts & culture

Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019

A new collaboration between X-Plore Youth Devon, Exeter College LGBTQ+ society, Natalie McGrath of Dreadnought SW and Dr Jana Funke of the University of Exeter explores gender and sexual diversity across time, place and culture by reimagining objects from the RAMM collections.

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Exeter City Council city centre wards map

News  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Exeter Labour loses local elections in all three city centre wards

Voters in Exeter yesterday elected three new councillors to represent them in the key wards that cover the city centre, with all the city's ruling Exeter Labour group candidates missing out despite the party's confident campaign.

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Exeter Clifton Hill sports centre

Analysis  ⁄  Planning & place

Clifton Hill sports centre – the background

Storm Emma met the Beast from the East and dumped a huge amount of snow on the roof of Exeter's Clifton Hill sports centre, setting off a chain reaction which has ignited two campaigns and put Exeter City Council's approaches to competence and openness into sharp focus.

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Jemima Moore campaigning in Exeter local elections

Profile  ⁄  Democracy & governance

Local resident stands as independent candidate in Exeter elections

Jemima Moore is a 36 year-old part-time primary school teacher and mother of two young children with little political experience. So why has she decided to stand for election to Exeter City Council on 2 May?

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Exeter City Council press and public exclusion notice

Analysis  ⁄  Democracy & governance

What does your council know that you don't know you don't know?

Extracting information from councils is hard work but increasingly necessary for local democracy.

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Greater Exeter Strategic Plan banner

Analysis  ⁄  Planning & place

Is the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan GESPing for air?

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan has been a long time in gestation. When it finally arrives, will it deliver?

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Extinction Rebellion climate emergency protesters in Exeter Guildhall shopping centre

News  ⁄  Climate & environment

Exeter Extinction Rebellion stages climate emergency protest

Today around 70 people joined the Exeter branch of Extinction Rebellion on the city's streets to demand urgent action to minimise the risk of catastrophic impacts from climate change.

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Kaleider Mikrofest Our Dancing Shadows in Exeter Princesshay

Review  ⁄  Arts & culture

Out of sight, out of mind

A performance of From The Light of The Fire, Our Dancing Shadows in Exeter for Kaleider Mikrofest appears to favour illusion over truth in a confused rendering of Plato's cave allegory that leaves both performers and audience in the dark.

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Exeter St James period housing stock

Comment  ⁄  Planning & place

Exeter St James regeneration

How can the supply of low-cost, incrementally investable city centre accommodation be stimulated to attract and retain creative, technically-skilled young entrepreneurial talent?

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Historic Exe Bridge traffic

Comment  ⁄  Transport & mobility

Streets are for people, not cars

Cars adversely affect economic output, air quality and wellbeing, take up valuable space when parked and discourage people from walking and cycling when driven. Reducing their use would enhance Exeter's retail and leisure offer, improve public health and attract needed workers to the city.

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