2024 community share offer
2024 community share offer

THE EXETER DIGEST

Exeter Digest #23: Devon children's services failings - Exeter empty and second homes

Get up to speed with our new Exeter In Brief coverage, find out about ongoing local consultations and get ready to celebrate Phonic FM's 15th birthday.

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TOP STORIES

DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL CHARGED WITH “RELENTLESS INSTITUTIONAL FAILINGS” IN SEND CHILDREN’S SERVICES PROVISION

Children with special educational needs and disabilities protest alongside parents at County Hall as Ofsted monitoring continues to find serious unresolved issues and key areas that require significant change.

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.

EXETER IN BRIEF

The latest from our new home page section keeping you up to speed with local news that matters:

The budget for the EXETER CITY LIVING Vaughan Road redevelopment has soared from £9.2 million to £27.2 million, with the council now expected to lend an additional £13 million to its development company to complete what will now be a mix of 35 affordable and 56 market rent flats, 25 fewer affordable homes than planned.

The UNIVERSITY OF EXETER has twice refused to identify the members of its community engagement panel or residents liaison group under Freedom of Information legislation and is being referred to the Information Commissioner for failing to do so.

EXETER CITY COUNCIL has approved plans to replace Buckerell Lodge with a retirement home, deferred a decision on a development of 350 dwellings at St Bridget horticulture nursery on Old Rydon Lane and refused a 26-bed student accommodation block on Howell Road.

EXETER LABOUR proposals to spend £100,000 on a splash pool in St Thomas, a marginal ward in which the council’s deputy leader nearly lost her seat at last year’s local elections, has led city council news coverage of a budget which cuts more than £3 million of public spending.

EXETER CITY COUNCIL has approved the use of Exeter Chiefs’ Sandy Park stadium as a venue for boxing, wrestling, theatre, film and music events.

Royal College of Nursing staff at the ROYAL DEVON NHS TRUST have resumed strike action alongside South Western Ambulance Service workers as healthcare professionals across the country stage the biggest strike in NHS history.

Detailed plans for the Honiton Road MOOR EXCHANGE RETAIL PARK have been submitted for approval. Outline planning permission for the development was granted two years ago.

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.

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.

EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL has granted planning permission for 44 new dwellings and 6,000m2 of new office space beside Exeter Science Park.

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.

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

More Exeter In Brief here.

ON THE AGENDA

DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL is consulting on its draft proposals for adult social care provision until 19 March.

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

Public exhibitions take place from 11am-7pm on 14-15 February and 15-16 March at County Hall.

ON OUR RADAR

FRIDAY 17 FEBRUARY // EXETER CLIMATE ACTION HUB

A free screening of The Oil Machine followed by a panel discussion led by Dr James Dyke of the University of Exeter Global Systems Institute.

SATURDAY 25 FEBRUARY // EXETER PHOENIX

Phonic FM, Exeter’s community radio station, celebrates fifteen years of broadcasting with an evening of live music and DJs.

TUESDAY 14 MARCH // ST NICHOLAS PRIORY

An evening talk, The Forgotten Quarter, explores the Mint Lane area between the first and second world wars.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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.

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.

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”.

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Recent stories
Exeter Science Park main building

SPECIAL REPORTS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Council sinks additional £1.25m into struggling Exeter Science Park as company unable to repay £7m debts

Serial scrutiny failures continue as emergency meeting held to increase city council exposure to joint venture to more than £2 million on top of £450,000 project costs plus £950,000 guarantee but rescue plan risks repeating earlier strategic mistakes.

Illustrative view of development beside Gabriel's Wharf

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Revised Water Lane redevelopment plans submitted for outline approval

Application for up to 980 dwellings and up to 320 student bedspaces with 40,000m2 of other uses on ex-industrial site between railway embankment and Exeter Ship Canal obfuscates numerous key issues.

Exeter City Council 2023-24 unaudited statement of accounts cover image

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Annual inspection period begins as unaudited 2023-24 city council accounts published

Special information access rights enabling residents to examine records apply until 12 July as two preceding years' accounts still not signed off and auditor's inquiry into council governance and financial and performance management continues.

Exeter St Thomas station access

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Exeter St Thomas improvement bid rejected as Devon denied step-free access funding for five years

Two-thirds of Access for All money to go to Conservative seats as low-key Department for Transport announcement finds its way into constituency-level news stories and political PR across the country.

Howell Road garage student block illustrative elevation

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Howell Road garage for sale a week after student block redevelopment plans granted at appeal

Developer denied he would 'spin in and spin out and take my profit' at planning committee that approved 'backstop' plans for nine flats on site, saying student block was 'what we want to build'.

Howell Road garage

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

26-bed Howell Road garage site student accommodation block allowed at appeal

St James Neighbourhood Plan community balance aims discounted and council policy and evidence deemed insufficient in inspector's decision to overturn planning committee refusal.

On Our Radar
More stories
Exeter Academy English language school in Sylvan Road, Pennsylvania

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Plan to convert language school to nursery to test credibility of city council active travel policy

Exeter Academy sits near top of steep hill 250 feet above city, far from accessible bus and rail routes, but developer claims local plan compliance in 'demonstrably sustainable location' which is 'conducive to sustainable modes of travel'.

Corner of Fore Street and West Street with St Mary Steps church in the background

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Developers claim council planning committee refusal was 'if not malevolent, certainly misguided'

Appeal against decision to deny fifth additional storey in build-to-rent scheme above Crankhouse Coffee accuses councillors of seeking to 'appease the weight of objectors' orchestrated opinion' against amendments to eleven year-old consent.

Exeter City Council ballot share by ward 2016 to 2024 line graph

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter bucks national trend as Labour support falls 6% and party loses vote share in all but one ward

Independent group, Greens and LibDems all take seats and Conservatives increase share in four wards as Labour stays in control of council after close call in Mincinglake & Whipton, holds in key battlegrounds and third Topsham win.

, updated

Exeter City Council 2024 local elections results party seat distribution

BRIEFINGS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Council 2024 local elections results

The votes cast for each candidate with vote share and vote share change by party in each ward, plus turnout and the distribution of seats.

, updated

2024 Exeter local elections guide graphic showing current council seat distribution

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

2024 Exeter local elections guide

City council elections take place on Thursday 2 May. Our comprehensive guide covers who's standing where, wards to watch and the backdrop to this year's ballot, which promises to be the most unpredictable contest in years.

Exeter Labour 2024 campaign leaflet

COMMENT  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Council raids community fund for £6 million to pay for eight year-old food waste collection promise

Emergency decision to finance materials reclamation facility investment taken less than a week before 2024 local elections campaign officially began.

Spotlight
Spring 2024 community share offer

Exeter Observer celebrates five years of local public interest news publishing

Invest in our Spring 2024 community share offer to help us deliver all the independent journalism Exeter needs and make it five more.

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