The city council kicked off a quartet of scrutiny meetings intended to pave the way for councillors to give Exeter Development Fund a green light with a session last night that resembled a sales pitch.
Instead of first focussing on substantive detail, then considering risk, before assessing possible benefits and the merits of any rationale, the council has arranged the sequence of meetings the other way around.
Karime Hassan was present to make the case for the project, but the only clue as to whether he was there to represent Exeter City Futures, where he now works two days a week, or the city council, where he remains chief executive for the other three, was his reluctance to answer questions.
Not content with controlling the agenda, the council sought to determine the meeting’s outcomes in advance and even went as far as suggesting questions that councillors might like to ask.
When committee members such as Amy Sparling had the temerity to head off-piste, by asking to what extent Net Zero Exeter plan delivery will rely on the development fund, the meeting’s chair stepped in. But not before Roli Martin, also pitching for Exeter City Futures, said he had no idea.