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TOP COP26 STORIES
GREENS CALL FOR EVIDENCE-BASED EXETER CARBON BUDGET AS CITY COUNCIL CLINGS TO NET ZERO RHETORIC
A “forensic analysis on the gulf between the simplistic rhetoric and unrealisable goals of Exeter City Council and Exeter City Futures on the one hand, and the complex realities of securing decarbonisation on the other”. Read the full story or join the conversation.
IF YOU THINK ELECTRIC VEHICLES ARE THE ANSWER, YOU’RE ASKING THE WRONG QUESTION
Mike Walton of Exeter Cycling Campaign says we shouldn’t be seduced by the motoring lobby into believing that electric cars can create the future we and our children need. Read the full story or join the conversation.
COP-EXE EVENT SHOWCASES LOCAL RESPONSES TO GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS
Exeter city centre venues promoting local action to mitigate the climate crisis. New contributor Chris Wood’s first story for Exeter Observer.
GALLERY: BUS SHELTER SUBVERTISING
Activists post parody adverts aimed at corporate climate crisis greenwashing on Exeter city centre bus shelters. See the photos here or comment and share.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
PROSPECTS IMPROVE FOR POP-UP PARIS STREET AND SIDWELL STREET TENANTS
Artistic and cultural initiatives and independent local businesses that have sprung up in the shadow of the CityPoint development may get a reprieve, if council leader Phil Bialyk is to be believed.
COUNCIL SCRAPS AFFORDABLE HOUSING REQUIREMENT AT CLIFTON HILL
Council-owned Exeter City Living claims the Clifton Hill redevelopment is no longer financially viable if the affordable housing requirement remains despite receiving a council loan of nearly £16 million to buy and develop the site on the basis it would make a 20% profit.
NOTES & SKETCHES
INSTEAD OF ANNOUNCING the biggest council funding rise for over a decade, Exeter City Council’s press team marked budget day by celebrating Exeter’s latest quarterly YouGov popularity rating. The Paris Street PR machine forgot to mention that those surveyed need never have visited the city.
THE UNIVERSITY OF EXETER comms team isn’t so keen on topping league tables, at least when it comes to ranking VC remuneration. It wants to get ahead of an Office for Students report expected later this month in which it is likely to figure prominently after Steve Smith received an £830,000 pay package in his final year on the job (2019-20).
The pitch is his “extraordinary success” during his eighteen years at the university, and an “exceptional” bonus-based incentive scheme reflecting the “value and importance” of his experience and expertise.
Many of the university’s teaching staff might see the situation differently: by 2016-17 (the last year short term academic employees were included in HESA statistics) the university had become the sixth most insecure employer in the Russell Group, with 64% of all academic staff employed on insecure contracts.
His successor Lisa Roberts might also feel short-changed on her £275,000 salary, although this still places her firmly in the global top 1%. Perhaps the university is planning to donate the difference to local communities as part of its new “civic university agreement”?
AT THE OTHER END OF THE SCALE the TUC has published the results of a poll which found that nearly a quarter of key public sector workers in the South West are “actively considering” quitting their jobs because of low pay and excessive workloads.
NO SUCH IGNOMINY for Torridge and West Devon MP Geoffrey Cox, whose escapades in exotic locations must by now be familiar to most of his constituents. One Exeter Observer journalist, who has been examining income disparities across the county, found herself asking whether he could be single-handedly responsible for Torridge’s mysteriously high average wages. Presumably not, if his staunch defence of tax havens is anything to go by.
OTHER WEST DEVON RESIDENTS may soon not need to travel to experience tropical temperatures, according to research from the Met Office focussed on climate change-related temperature rises. A new Hadley Centre data dashboard makes clear the need for urgent action to keep constituencies free of their MPs.
ON OUR READING LIST
COP26 has prompted plenty of “net zero” analysis at all scales and scopes. The local focus of two think tank reports has stood out.
Centre-right Onward continues its examination of decarbonisation policy options at regional and constituency levels in Thin Ice? Understanding voters’ support for net zero [PDF].
It finds geography drives larger differences in policy support than demography, with some parts of the South West demonstrating strikingly low levels of support for basic measures such as domestic retrofitting.
And cross-party Localis outlines the case for (and barriers against) local government as the delivery vehicle for decarbonisation in COP26: Why Local Delivery Matters [PDF].
It finds upsides in key local authority roles in planning policy, environmental protection and waste disposal, and downsides in separate liaison arrangements between local authorities and different central government departments and the ongoing problem of competitive regional bidding for short-term government funds.
Meanwhile the Committee on Standards in Public Life, currently never far from the news, has published the final report and recommendations of its Standards Matter 2 review [PDF].
The report calls for stronger rules, more independent regulation and a better system of compliance, and proposes an update to the Nolan principle concerning the conduct of public office holders.
It now says they “should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect”, “should actively promote and robustly support the principles” and should “challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs”, having removed “be willing to” from the final clause.
Let’s hope our local leaders are paying attention: these principles apply to everyone in public office at all levels, including city council officers and members.
OTHER OTHER NEWS
Denis the Dustcart, the council’s refuse and recycling spokesvehicle, flies his anti-capitalist flag high in his latest blogpost.
Advocating reduced production and consumption, he takes aim at “humanity’s drive towards constant growth on a finite planet” and cites the “problem plastic produced by consumerism” and the “ecological, environmental and human horror” that goes with bauxite mining for aluminium drinks can production as just two examples among many.
Perhaps more council officers should adopt alliterative cartoon alter-egos to express their views?
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