THE EXETER DIGEST

Exeter Digest #8: Exeter carbon budget - Electric vehicles are not the answer - COP-EXE climate showcase - Bus shelter subvertising

In our eighth newsletter, a COP26 special, we review recent climate and environment stories, take a tour through some local winners and losers and present our pick of recent locally-focussed decarbonisation policy analysis.

Refuse & recycling 

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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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Exeter in brief
Exeter in brief

The police inspectorate says DEVON AND CORNWALL POLICE must make urgent improvements after it was found to be inadequate in three of nine areas including responding to emergency and non-emergency calls and managing registered sexual and violent offenders.
Its assessment found two other areas required improvement while two more were graded “good”. A new chief constable was appointed in December after the force was placed under enhanced inspectorate monitoring last year.

DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL is consulting on its draft Exeter Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, which is already nearly six years late, until the end of March.

UNIVERSITY OF EXETER staff have resumed strike action over pay, pensions and working conditions alongside Exeter school teaching staff with dozens more strike days planned during February and March.

EXETER CITY FUTURES published the agenda for its last board meeting on 30 January, two months after the meeting was held. It says it is “committed to being completely transparent and open about the things that are discussed at board meetings”. No minutes were included.

New figures show that 2.2 million people used EXETER CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION in the year to March 2022, making it the 155th busiest of 2,569 UK railway stations and (slightly) busier than Exeter St David’s.

DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL is not making sufficient progress with its children’s services since they were judged inadequate in January 2020 according to the latest Ofsted monitoring report which found that key areas still require significant change and serious issues remain.

The opening of MARSH BARTON RAILWAY STATION has been delayed yet again, to “this spring”, putting project completion more than six years behind schedule.

EXETER CHIEFS rugby club has reintroduced its offensive “tomahawk chop” chant during games at Sandy Park despite seeking to rehabilitate its reputation over misappropriation of Native American imagery.

The UNIVERSITY OF EXETER has submitted detailed plans for its 1,700 bed West Park redevelopment of 50,000m2 of student accommodation.

The police inspectorate says DEVON AND CORNWALL POLICE must make urgent improvements after it was found to be inadequate in three of nine areas including responding to emergency and non-emergency calls and managing registered sexual and violent offenders.
Its assessment found two other areas required improvement while two more were graded “good”. A new chief constable was appointed in December after the force was placed under enhanced inspectorate monitoring last year.

DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL is consulting on its draft Exeter Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan, which is already nearly six years late, until the end of March.

UNIVERSITY OF EXETER staff have resumed strike action over pay, pensions and working conditions alongside Exeter school teaching staff with dozens more strike days planned during February and March.

EXETER CITY FUTURES published the agenda for its last board meeting on 30 January, two months after the meeting was held. It says it is “committed to being completely transparent and open about the things that are discussed at board meetings”. No minutes were included.

New figures show that 2.2 million people used EXETER CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION in the year to March 2022, making it the 155th busiest of 2,569 UK railway stations and (slightly) busier than Exeter St David’s.

DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL is not making sufficient progress with its children’s services since they were judged inadequate in January 2020 according to the latest Ofsted monitoring report which found that key areas still require significant change and serious issues remain.

The opening of MARSH BARTON RAILWAY STATION has been delayed yet again, to “this spring”, putting project completion more than six years behind schedule.

EXETER CHIEFS rugby club has reintroduced its offensive “tomahawk chop” chant during games at Sandy Park despite seeking to rehabilitate its reputation over misappropriation of Native American imagery.

The UNIVERSITY OF EXETER has submitted detailed plans for its 1,700 bed West Park redevelopment of 50,000m2 of student accommodation.

More Exeter Digest

Exeter Digest #22: Community infrastructure levy review - Student numbers - County council spending

The first edition of 2023 also introduces our new Exeter in brief section and trails PRISM Exeter LGBTQIA+ speakers, a free documentary film screening and Exeter's first seed swap.

Exeter Digest #21: Greener grass? - Council lottery - EDF secrecy - £2.2 million ECL loss

A bumper festive holiday edition also covers the nurses strike, South West Water's "sustained poor performance" and the university's gender pay gap plus a Community Infrastructure Levy consultation.

Exeter Digest #20: ICO investigates university - Stagecoach escapes - University strike - Roads dominate Devon transport spending

Our essential newsletter also covers three ongoing public consultations plus an original play by Exeter Drama Company, traditional festive music by candlelight and poetry, comedy and live carols for Christmas.

All Exeter Digest
News
Exeter empty and second homes by council tax band October 2022 bar chart

PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter has more empty and second homes than built in city in past two years

Council tax premium proposals that aim to raise additional revenue from underused housing stock might also encourage return to residential occupancy.

University of Exeter students based at Streatham & St Luke's campuses 2021-22 & 2022-23 table

PLANNING & PLACE

30,000 students based at Exeter university campuses in 2022-23

Freedom of information request reveals significant drop on last year with postgraduate students accounting for 58% of fall in numbers.

Devon County Council headquarters at County Hall

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Underperforming county council children's services to receive nearly half of proposed spending increases

Details of simultaneous £50 million 2023-24 spending reductions not yet published as finance director cites service delivery "re-prioritisation".

All News
Analysis
Lottery graphic

COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Council lottery operator to take cut from local charitable donations

Decision to promote gambling as "incentivised giving" plays down risks without assessing potential impacts or evidencing claimed benefits, disrupting relationships between community and voluntary sector organisations and supporters.

Exeter Development Fund workshop presentation October 2021

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Futures falsely claims development fund documents disclosed under FOI legislation

Senior council director puts company on collision course with Information Commissioner's Office as significant governance failings emerge after councillors and public kept in dark over Liveable Exeter financing scheme proposals.

Exeter City Council 2020-21 external audit report cover

DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Living put council at "significant financial risk" after £2.2 million loss in first two years

Missing business plan, lack of transparency and conflicts of interest among senior council directors prompt board resignations and governance review at council-owned and funded company.

All Analysis
Comment
Co-living - discover a new way to rent

PLANNING & PLACE

Council development levy changes are insufficiently evidenced and don't meet city infrastructure needs

Exeter City Council and Liveable Exeter partners impose faulty typology driven by policy objectives while ignoring new local plan, evidence base and statutory funding statement and excluding residential and retail charges from review.

Exeter city centre retail area map 2017 and 2022 CDRC data

CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Is the grass really greener in Exeter city centre?

Academic research placing Exeter retail area at top of green space table was nationally reported, locally misrepresented then repurposed as booster fuel by local politicians overlooking study's social justice focus.

Exeter City Council outline draft local plan site allocations crop

PLANNING & PLACE

Will council seek investment zone status for Liveable Exeter sites?

Government growth plans combine tax breaks with planning deregulation, putting affordable housing provision and environmental protections at risk with little evidence that promised investment zone benefits would result.

All Comment
On our radar
All topics

ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY   AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY   COP26 COP26 COP26   COVID-19 COVID-19 COVID-19   CITYPOINT CITYPOINT CITYPOINT   CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE   CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS   CO-LIVING CO-LIVING CO-LIVING   CONGESTION CONGESTION CONGESTION   COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX   CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE   CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING   DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT   DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN   DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL   DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND   EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL   EXETER AIRPORT EXETER AIRPORT EXETER AIRPORT   EXETER CATHEDRAL EXETER CATHEDRAL EXETER CATHEDRAL   EXETER CITY COUNCIL EXETER CITY COUNCIL EXETER CITY COUNCIL   EXETER CITY FUTURES EXETER CITY FUTURES EXETER CITY FUTURES   EXETER CITY LIVING EXETER CITY LIVING EXETER CITY LIVING   EXETER COLLEGE EXETER COLLEGE EXETER COLLEGE   EXETER CULTURE EXETER CULTURE EXETER CULTURE   EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND   EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION   EXETER LIVE BETTER EXETER LIVE BETTER EXETER LIVE BETTER   EXETER LOCAL PLAN EXETER LOCAL PLAN EXETER LOCAL PLAN   EXETER PHOENIX EXETER PHOENIX EXETER PHOENIX   EXETER PRIDE EXETER PRIDE EXETER PRIDE   EXETER SCIENCE PARK EXETER SCIENCE PARK EXETER SCIENCE PARK   EXETER ST DAVID'S EXETER ST DAVID'S EXETER ST DAVID'S   EXETER TRANSPORT STRATEGY EXETER TRANSPORT STRATEGY EXETER TRANSPORT STRATEGY   EXETER CITY CENTRE EXETER CITY CENTRE EXETER CITY CENTRE   FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FREEDOM OF INFORMATION FREEDOM OF INFORMATION   FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER FRIDAYS FOR FUTURE EXETER   GENERAL ELECTIONS GENERAL ELECTIONS GENERAL ELECTIONS   GUILDHALL GUILDHALL GUILDHALL   HARLEQUINS HARLEQUINS HARLEQUINS   HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP HEART OF THE SOUTH WEST LEP   HOUSING CRISIS HOUSING CRISIS HOUSING CRISIS   LGBTQIA+ LGBTQIA+ LGBTQIA+   LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD LIVEABLE EXETER PLACE BOARD   LIVEABLE EXETER LIVEABLE EXETER LIVEABLE EXETER   LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY LOCAL INDUSTRIAL STRATEGY   LOCAL ELECTIONS LOCAL ELECTIONS LOCAL ELECTIONS   MAKETANK MAKETANK MAKETANK   MARSH BARTON MARSH BARTON MARSH BARTON   MET OFFICE MET OFFICE MET OFFICE   MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL MID DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL   NET ZERO EXETER NET ZERO EXETER NET ZERO EXETER   NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS   OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE   PARIS STREET PARIS STREET PARIS STREET   PARKING PARKING PARKING   PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT   PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY   PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY   PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT   PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION   PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH   PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM   PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT   RAMM RAMM RAMM   REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING   RETROFIT RETROFIT RETROFIT   RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK   ROYAL DEVON NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON NHS TRUST   SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET   SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION   SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER   SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY   SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT   ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE   ST SIDWELL'S POINT ST SIDWELL'S POINT ST SIDWELL'S POINT   STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST   STUDENT ACCOMMODATION STUDENT ACCOMMODATION STUDENT ACCOMMODATION   TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL   UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER  

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