2024 community share offer
2024 community share offer

THE EXETER DIGEST

Exeter Digest #24: Community grants slashed - Council decision-making damaging local democracy

Catch up with Exeter In Brief, survey upcoming development plans, respond to ongoing consultations and take your pick from a selection of local events.

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TOP STORIES

COUNCIL SLASHES COMMUNITY GRANTS BUT SPLASHES CASH ON PADDLING POOLS IN CONTESTED WARDS

Exeter grants programme budget reduced from £425,000 to £15,000 leaving hundreds of grassroots groups out in the cold as the impact of borrowing takes its toll and council fails to consult on budget cuts despite auditor recommendation.

EXETER CITY COUNCIL’S APPROACH TO DECISION-MAKING IS DAMAGING LOCAL DEMOCRACY

Separation of powers and transparency provisions intended to safeguard public interest being subverted while council defies auditor over loss-making company.

WITH (Y)OUR OWN EYES

Devon Ukrainian Association and Maketank present an exhibition of frontline photography to mark the anniversary of the invasion of Ukraine and the country’s nine-year war for independence.

EXETER IN BRIEF

Instead of varying its EXETER CITY LIVING management agreement to allow the council-owned company to submit its 2023-24 business plan five months late – a fortnight after the financial year to which it applies begins – as agreed in January, the city council has now decided not to set a deadline for its submission at all.

Revised proposals for a student/co-living complex on the site of HEAVITREE ROAD POLICE STATION AND MAGISTRATES’ COURT were rejected at a council planning committee meeting on 20 February. The scheme’s eighth design iteration provided 955 rooms at “optimum density”, 89 fewer than before, and slightly reduced building heights and footprints from the previous version. An appeal against the decision is expected after the May local elections.

Exeter City Council approved EXETER COLLEGE plans to erect floodlights and a three metre fence around a new artificial pitch at Flowerpot Fields at the same meeting despite widespread objections to its original plans. Its revised plans addressed some, but not all, of the issues raised.

Simon Jupp has been selected to stand in the new HONITON & SIDMOUTH constituency which will replace the East Devon seat he currently holds for the Conservatives at the next general election.

A 30 year-old man from Exmouth has been charged with the murder of a 74 year-old woman from Exeter in LUDWELL VALLEY PARK following his arrest Exeter High Street on 18 February. Members of the public who may have information that could assist in the investigation are asked to contact Devon & Cornwall Police.

The prison inspectorate published a damning report on 16 February into what it called “shocking standards” at EXETER PRISON after issuing a second consecutive urgent notification for the prison – the first time it has done so. The prison has the highest rates of self-harm in the country, with 26 suicides in recent years, high levels of violence, very poor conditions and multiple leadership failures. The previous urgent notification concerning conditions in the prison was sent to the justice secretary in 2018.

Works at controversial Gladstone Road co-living block THE GORGE have resumed, with the project not now due for completion until the end of the year.

EXETER CITY COUNCIL has confirmed that its food waste collections now cover 10.9% of the city’s residential addresses. Coverage is expected to reach 16.9% from early March with further expansion aiming at 35% coverage by the end of May, seven years after the collections were promised.

Another 100 new homes will be built in the TOPSHAM GAP beside Clyst Road after the developer successfully appealed against the council’s planning permission refusal. The same developer also won an appeal against council refusal of 155 homes and a 64-bed care home on an adjacent site in 2019.

More Exeter In Brief here.

ON THE AGENDA

Pre-application exhibition of plans for a 164-bed ‘co-living’ block on SUMMERLAND STREET will take place from 11am-4pm on Friday 3 March at the former windscreen repair business in the centre of the redevelopment site, which includes Yonk Asian Foods and Sai Kung supermarket.

Plans for an ultra-high density build-to-rent development at HAVEN BANKS have been revised to rely on a Welcome Street bridge being built over the railway in response to Environment Agency flood risk objections.

EXETER CHIEFS rugby club has applied to vary a planning restriction imposed when it was granted permission to double the capacity of its Sandy Park stadium in 2012 which currently prevents its use as a music or performance venue. The application follows the approval of a licensing variation to allow its use as a venue for boxing, wrestling, theatre, film and music events on 30 January.

PINHOE COMMUNITY HUB has resubmitted its application for a new building at Station Road playing fields following the lapse of the previous permission, granted three years ago.

SOUTH WEST WATER is consulting on its draft Water Resources Management Plan, which sets out how it intends to ensure a secure regional water supply and manage its environmental impact, until 19 May.

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

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.

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.

The UNIVERSITY OF EXETER has submitted detailed plans for its 1,700 bed West Park redevelopment of 50,000m2 of student accommodation. They include ten storey blocks which are two storeys taller than agreed when outline permission was granted in May 2021.

ON OUR RADAR

THURSDAY 2 MARCH // ST OLAVE’S CHURCH

Performances of plainchant and polyphony with prayers for Lent on Thursdays during March.

SATURDAY 4 MARCH // EXETER CLIMATE ACTION HUB

A free interactive workshop that explains the causes and consequences of climate change, introducing participants to climate science and its links with climate action.

SATURDAY 11 MARCH // EXETER PHOENIX

A free one day festival celebrating women with live music, dance, poetry, talks, art, food and more.

SATURDAY 11 MARCH // EXETER CLIMATE ACTION HUB

Culture for Climate open mic night: an evening of climate-themed poetry, music and readings.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

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.

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Recent stories
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.

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

On Our Radar
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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.

Exeter Community Lottery homepage

ANALYSIS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Australian multinational is biggest council lottery winner as 92% of local causes receive less than £500

Operator collects £26,000 and city council £16,000 in first nine months as public support for Exeter voluntary and community organisations turned into private profit.

Devon County Council Devon and Torbay devolution deal consultation results bar chart

COMMENT  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

County council to impose new local government tier despite majority opposition to devolution deal

Emptiness of claims that new combined authority will be accountable reflected in failure to respect consultation results as all eight Devon district councils decry prospective democratic deficit.

Electoral Commission voting options graphic

BRIEFINGS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

When, where and how to vote in the 2024 Exeter local elections

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Auditor value for money arrangements recommendations summary chart

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Auditor broadens inquiry to include Exeter City Futures and ex-CEO secondment to liquidated company

More 'significant weaknesses' found in city council governance and financial and performance management arrangements while St Sidwell's Point valued at £7 million less than build cost and £370,000 ex-CEO final year pay and benefits confirmed.

Spotlight
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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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