Exeter Observer contributors

Martin Redfern

Martin Redfern is editor of Exeter Observer and a director of its publisher Exeter Observer Limited.

He has 30 years’ experience working with public and private sector organisations in multi-stakeholder contexts to achieve social change goals, and has been actively engaged with public policy and practice around climate change since the 1992 Rio Summit.

He holds a Master’s degree with distinction in Journalism at Birkbeck, University of London and has a background in campaigning, project management and multimedia design and development.

He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists and the Society of Editors and is an accredited UK press card holder.

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.

Stories with Martin Redfern
Exeter empty and second homes by council tax band October 2022 bar chart

NEWS  ⁄  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

NEWS  ⁄  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.

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

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Is the grass really greener in Exeter city centre?

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Council lottery operator to take cut from local charitable donations

ANALYSIS  ⁄  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 City Futures falsely claims development fund documents disclosed under FOI legislation

ANALYSIS  ⁄  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.

Historic nurses strike goes ahead after government refuses to negotiate over pay

NEWS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Historic nurses strike goes ahead after government refuses to negotiate over pay

Royal College of Nursing members out in force at Exeter NHS trusts alongside colleagues across the country as recruitment crisis threatens profession.

South West Water performance remains among worst in sector as it falls further behind targets

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

South West Water performance remains among worst in sector as it falls further behind targets

Regulator highlights "sustained poor performance" after serious pollution incidents nearly triple and Environment Agency condemns company in annual assessment.

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

ANALYSIS  ⁄  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.

University of Exeter lags behind on female pay and employment terms

ANALYSIS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

University of Exeter lags behind on female pay and employment terms

HESA figures show poor performance compared with Universities UK members and only incremental changes over past five years, mostly since staff began industrial action over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Information Commissioner to investigate university over student accommodation numbers refusal

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Information Commissioner to investigate university over student accommodation numbers refusal

Compliance failure follows university admission that nearly 39,000 students based at Exeter campuses in 2021-22, suggesting around three quarters of city's private rented housing stock occupied by students.

Motor vehicle infrastructure continues to dominate Devon transport spending

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Motor vehicle infrastructure continues to dominate Devon transport spending

New active travel infrastructure to receive just 5% share of capital allocations this year and next, with new roads capital expenditure to increase from 74% to 86%.

University holds public consultation on 1,700 bed West Park redevelopment design

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

University holds public consultation on 1,700 bed West Park redevelopment design

Outline plans to demolish 30 buildings and construct 50,000m2 of student accommodation on fifteen acre Streatham campus site did not comply with university or council environmental policies.

Figures show declining Exeter walking and cycling rates as active travel delivery falls by the wayside

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Figures show declining Exeter walking and cycling rates as active travel delivery falls by the wayside

County council plans to remove Queen Street active travel infrastructure despite road space reallocation commitments expose equivocal city transport policy aim.

Pinhoe, St Loye's and Topsham all in new Exeter East and Exmouth constituency under revised changes

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Pinhoe, St Loye's and Topsham all in new Exeter East and Exmouth constituency under revised changes

Final boundary commission consultation follows city council proposal to move marginal Pinhoe to safe Conservative seat and keep Priory Labour stronghold in city.

University says 39,000 students – nearly 30% of city's population – based at Exeter campuses in 2021-22

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

University says 39,000 students – nearly 30% of city's population – based at Exeter campuses in 2021-22

Freedom of information request reveals 11,500 more students than published FTE figures with major implications for council planning policy but university refuses to disclose numbers in PBSA vs residential housing stock.

Heavitree Road developer gets sixth pitch for student/co-living complex

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Heavitree Road developer gets sixth pitch for student/co-living complex

Eight design iterations, six council meetings, four consultation rounds and two deferrals combine to impede public participation in planning process on key Liveable Exeter site and increase chances of decision being overturned at appeal.

Flood risk threatens to sink Haven Banks redevelopment plans

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Flood risk threatens to sink Haven Banks redevelopment plans

Proposals for 434 rental units accommodating up to 1,167 people on 1.7 hectare Liveable Exeter site would deliver extreme housing densities that deny amenity to prospective occupants while inflicting significant impacts on existing residents.

Will council seek investment zone status for Liveable Exeter sites?

COMMENT  ⁄  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.

Council borrowing nearly triples in three years as property acquisition and development loans mount

ANALYSIS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Council borrowing nearly triples in three years as property acquisition and development loans mount

Freedom of information request reveals five paragraph "outline business plan" for £55 million Guildhall shopping centre investment.

GALLERY  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Kidical Mass returns to Exeter's streets

Hundreds of people took part in Exeter's third Kidical Mass family bike ride on Saturday as part of a global campaign for safe cycling routes for children, young people and families.

World car free day ignored in Exeter as Extinction Rebellion challenges council climate inaction

COMMENT  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

World car free day ignored in Exeter as Extinction Rebellion challenges council climate inaction

Protestors gathered outside council offices as CEO Karime Hassan posed for photo with construction company development manager at Princesshay promotion.

First Exeter "co-living" block comes on stream with rooms at £946pcm+

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

First Exeter "co-living" block comes on stream with rooms at £946pcm+

Even "affordable" rooms in six storey 133-unit Gladstone Road block would leave many local key workers living below minimum income threshold.

Council paves way for 186-bed "co-living" block in Summerland Street

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Council paves way for 186-bed "co-living" block in Summerland Street

Freedom of information request reveals intended scale of development after executive committee takes decision behind closed doors.

Exeter Development Fund: rent extraction, unaffordable housing and gentrification, but not net zero

COMMENT  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter Development Fund: rent extraction, unaffordable housing and gentrification, but not net zero

Exeter City Futures' private debt-driven Liveable Exeter property development financing scheme is under fire from councillors who say it is based on insufficiently-evidenced assumptions and won't meet Exeter's housing needs.

Exeter cycling & walking strategy five years late and counting

COMMENT  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Exeter cycling & walking strategy five years late and counting

County council soft-pedalling on infrastructure plan which city council says will not form part of new Exeter Local Plan despite Department for Transport guidance.

Property development promotion as community planning participation

COMMENT  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Property development promotion as community planning participation

If the Liveable Exeter property development scheme and its Exeter Development Fund financing vehicle are already intended to "anchor and underpin" the new Exeter Local Plan, what will public consultation on the plan decide?

St James HMO conversion refusal overturned at appeal

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

St James HMO conversion refusal overturned at appeal

Council failed to provide sufficient evidence to support 2012 planning policy introduced to limit impact of student occupation of residential housing stock.

Progressive Group planning enforcement proposal adopted despite public Labour rejection

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Progressive Group planning enforcement proposal adopted despite public Labour rejection

Newly-published register also reveals council has issued as many planning enforcement notices in the past three months as it has in the past three years.

University emissions study confirms Net Zero Exeter plan redundancy

COMMENT  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

University emissions study confirms Net Zero Exeter plan redundancy

Council retains Exeter City Futures' services despite history of delivery failures and lack of capacity to support defined decarbonisation targets.

Net Zero Exeter accountability under scrutiny

COMMENT  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Net Zero Exeter accountability under scrutiny

Exeter City Council's response to the climate crisis has so far been characterised by numerous failings. Unfortunately its attitude towards accountability for its actions in this area is also cause for concern.

Exeter greenhouse gas report disregards hundreds of thousands of tonnes of annual city emissions

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter greenhouse gas report disregards hundreds of thousands of tonnes of annual city emissions

Restricted scope of study misrepresents scale of city's impact to produce partial decarbonisation targets while ignoring opportunities to reduce emissions imported by residents, businesses and visitors, guaranteeing net zero failure.

Exeter beset by unaffordable housing, low graduate retention and economically inactive over 50's

ANALYSIS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Exeter beset by unaffordable housing, low graduate retention and economically inactive over 50's

Exeter City Council executive ignores key challenges flagged in major council-commissioned employment and skills research report.

Alphington "enhancements" will not mitigate traffic impact from massive South West Exeter extension

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Alphington "enhancements" will not mitigate traffic impact from massive South West Exeter extension

County council manipulates public consultation and allocates just 1% of £55 million grant to pedestrian scheme while spending 75% on new roads and increased road capacity for 3,500 new cars expected on greenfield housing estate.

Council rejects calls for greater community involvement in Exeter planning policy and decisions

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Council rejects calls for greater community involvement in Exeter planning policy and decisions

Council defends existing approach despite Statement of Community Involvement consultation producing just 17 responses, and won't do more to promote neighbourhood planning despite prospect of enhanced community powers.

£900,000 to keep Magdalen Road one-way system despite decisive public support for low traffic street

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

£900,000 to keep Magdalen Road one-way system despite decisive public support for low traffic street

County council misrepresented and omitted key public consultation findings in report and did not publish results until after decision taken in favour of option with only 18% public support. Exeter Observer snapshot survey finds 90%+ motor vehicles passing shops are through traffic.

Labour councillors appointed to all fourteen city council committee chairs at annual meeting

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Labour councillors appointed to all fourteen city council committee chairs at annual meeting

Council leader falsely claims "overwhelming majority" voted Labour in Exeter local elections while circumvention of council decision-making scrutiny continues.

GALLERY  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Kidical Mass Exeter: "The best day ever"

300 people took part in the first Kidical Mass Exeter family bike ride on Sunday 15 May as part of a global campaign for safe cycling routes for children, young people and families.

Greens take three seats from Labour so Progressive Group replaces Conservatives as official opposition

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Greens take three seats from Labour so Progressive Group replaces Conservatives as official opposition

Conservative loss in Topsham among significant vote share changes in 2022 Exeter City Council elections suggesting city's political landscape in flux.

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Coda: Council tax

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Coda: Council tax

The last part of our 2022 local elections series is a coda examining Exeter Labour's claim that the city has one of the lowest rates of council tax in the country.

2022 Exeter local elections guide

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

2022 Exeter local elections guide

City council elections take place on Thursday 5 May. Our essential guide highlights who's standing where, wards to watch and what the results might look like and mean. We also outline their context and explain when, where and how to vote.

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part III: Climate & environment

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part III: Climate & environment

The third in our 2022 local elections series examines Exeter Labour claims about climate crisis leadership, renewable energy, recycling, retrofitting and development standards as well as decisions to scrap council and city decarbonisation goals.

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part II: Economy & city centre

ANALYSIS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part II: Economy & city centre

The second in our 2022 local elections series examines Exeter Labour claims about the city centre and Exeter's wider economy, including its misrepresentation of content marketing materials as authoritative sources of information about the city.

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part I: Exeter's housing crisis

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Do Exeter Labour election campaign claims stand up to scrutiny? Part I: Exeter's housing crisis

The first instalment in our 2022 local elections coverage examines Exeter Labour claims related to the housing crisis overtaking the city.

Exeter City Council abandons city 2030 decarbonisation "ambition"

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter City Council abandons city 2030 decarbonisation "ambition"

Unannounced decision to exclude scope 3 emissions constituting around 43% of Exeter's carbon footprint from "net zero" plans effectively ensures city will not meet its decarbonisation goals.

Why does Exeter City Council evade public scrutiny of Exeter City Living property development decisions?

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Why does Exeter City Council evade public scrutiny of Exeter City Living property development decisions?

Significant decisions concerning the council-owned company are being taken in secret despite transparency legislation and assurances when it was created, with governance and scrutiny arrangements also potentially putting the council at risk.

Council consultants confirm 58% of Exeter's university students live in city's residential housing stock

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Council consultants confirm 58% of Exeter's university students live in city's residential housing stock

2021-22 university figures suggest there are now more than 4,500 student HMOs in the city, consistent with ONS findings, with number set to surpass Exeter's council housing provision.

Exeter City Futures secondment decision may be unlawful

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Futures secondment decision may be unlawful

Backbench city councillors denied scrutiny call-in powers to challenge controversial decision to send chief executive and senior director to work for private company.

Ukrainian refugee support hub opens in Exeter city centre

NEWS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Ukrainian refugee support hub opens in Exeter city centre

Conversation Café pop-up offers information, resources, events and meeting space to help cut through the confusion surrounding the Homes for Ukraine scheme and enable Devon's response to the crisis.

£55 million Guildhall shopping centre decision may breach local government transparency rules

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

£55 million Guildhall shopping centre decision may breach local government transparency rules

Exeter City Council decision to purchase and redevelop shopping centre may be unlawful, ineffective and subject to judicial review, increasing already significant commercial investment risks.

Decision to send council CEO and director to work for Exeter City Futures is "disservice to citizens"

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Decision to send council CEO and director to work for Exeter City Futures is "disservice to citizens"

City council disregards governance, risk and conflict of interest issues despite cross-party challenges and conflates decarbonisation agenda with property development financing scheme.

Individual overseas ownership of Exeter property triples in ten years

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Individual overseas ownership of Exeter property triples in ten years

350% rise greater than in Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster, increasing housing costs, reducing home ownership levels and harming housing affordability.

Exeter decarbonisation plans found wanting in nationwide council climate action plan study

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter decarbonisation plans found wanting in nationwide council climate action plan study

Somerset West and Taunton highest scoring local authority area with East Devon in third place nationally in comprehensive Climate Emergency UK analysis.

Pennsylvania petitioners expose fifteen years of flawed student accommodation policy-making

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Pennsylvania petitioners expose fifteen years of flawed student accommodation policy-making

City council policies based on faulty premises, inaccurate information and miscalculated projections have failed to prevent mass student occupation of Exeter residential housing stock despite the proliferation of Purpose Built Student Accommodation across the city.

County council doubles down on pension fund divestment position

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

County council doubles down on pension fund divestment position

Devon Pension Fund remains committed to fossil fuel investment despite increasingly untenable pension fund committee position that relies on unfounded shareholder influence claims and failure to understand sector position and plans.

University of Exeter ranked bottom of Russell Group and 103rd overall in social mobility league table

NEWS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

University of Exeter ranked bottom of Russell Group and 103rd overall in social mobility league table

Landmark study by Institute for Fiscal Studies, Sutton Trust and Department for Education finds University of Exeter undergraduates are less likely to come from disadvantaged backgrounds, and those that do are less likely to be high earners.

Exeter City Council approves second Harlequins "co-living" block, sealing fate of Paul Street

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter City Council approves second Harlequins "co-living" block, sealing fate of Paul Street

Previously rejected vision will now form basis of "abysmal" and "poorly thought through" Liveable Exeter development of 383 "units of accommodation" with increased proportion of substandard studios but reduced economic value to city.

Greens call for evidence-based Exeter carbon budget as city council clings to net zero rhetoric

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Greens call for evidence-based Exeter carbon budget as city council clings to net zero rhetoric

The Net Zero Exeter plan lacks baseline emissions figures, recognised scope definitions and measurement and reporting frameworks, placing the city's decarbonisation agenda at risk. The opportunity for Exeter to demonstrate genuine climate crisis leadership nevertheless remains.

Council plans to scrap affordable housing requirement for Clifton Hill sports centre site redevelopment

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Council plans to scrap affordable housing requirement for Clifton Hill sports centre site redevelopment

Council-owned and financed developer cites unpublished report which values council-owned land for student housing despite council decision ruling out this use.

Proposed Exeter parliamentary constituency changes pit Priory against Pinhoe

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Proposed Exeter parliamentary constituency changes pit Priory against Pinhoe

City council responds to boundary commission consultation by proposing Conservative East Devon takes marginal Pinhoe and city keeps Priory Labour stronghold instead.

City council outsourcing Exeter local government to unaccountable Liveable Exeter Place Board

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

City council outsourcing Exeter local government to unaccountable Liveable Exeter Place Board

An Exeter Observer investigation of Liveable Exeter Place Board has found that it is a de facto decision-making and governance body which exercises public functions with the potential to affect everyone who lives and works in Exeter.

30 year plan for SW transport outlined in consultation document

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

30 year plan for SW transport outlined in consultation document

Strategic vision places investment in roads ahead of decarbonisation despite acknowledging the region's high car dependency rate.

South West Water misses pollution targets for tenth year running

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

South West Water misses pollution targets for tenth year running

Environment Agency says regional company's performance "drags down the whole sector's reputation" as report places it at bottom of annual assessment league table while company pays out millions in shareholder dividends.

SATURDAY 31 JULY 2021

St Sid's holds double celebration of community centre's 20th anniversary and Sidwella Day

Local residents are invited to an afternoon of live music, good food, heritage tours and garden discovery trail in honour of Sidwella, Exeter's patron saint.

ST SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE

Harlequins developer plans to scrap hotel to build second "co-living" block on shopping centre site

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Harlequins developer plans to scrap hotel to build second "co-living" block on shopping centre site

Existing planning approval will be factor in decision to return to earlier, rejected, vision which would mean 378 studios and "cluster flat" rooms along Paul Street.

River Exe green spaces and heritage harbour site threatened by "Liveable Exeter" development scheme

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

River Exe green spaces and heritage harbour site threatened by "Liveable Exeter" development scheme

Exeter Civic Society and Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors raise alarm at prospect of Exeter City Council development in river valley park and historic canal basin.

University drops environmental standards for huge student flats development with council approval

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

University drops environmental standards for huge student flats development with council approval

University of Exeter and Exeter City Council both ignore own policies in plans to demolish 30 buildings and construct 50,000m2 of new student accommodation, telling us more about their priorities than their climate leadership claims.

Devon Pension Fund fossil fuel investment position exposed by Shell and BP AGM votes

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Devon Pension Fund fossil fuel investment position exposed by Shell and BP AGM votes

Shareholder support for Paris Agreement-compatible goals increases but fails to prevent continuing oil and gas exploration, extraction, production or consumption as experts intensify warnings that emissions reductions goals will be missed.

South West Exeter district heating network plan abandoned

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

South West Exeter district heating network plan abandoned

Property developers refuse to back scheme despite local authorities committing £7.3 million to project to supply 2500 new homes with waste heat from Marsh Barton incinerator, Exeter's largest single source of carbon emissions.

Did Exeter's local elections results tell a Labour success story?

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Did Exeter's local elections results tell a Labour success story?

Exeter Labour lost just one seat in the city council elections and held all seven of its county hall seats, but on closer inspection its performance was more mixed than these headline results imply.

Is Exeter City Council going to abandon its Net Zero 2030 target?

COMMENT  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Is Exeter City Council going to abandon its Net Zero 2030 target?

Review suggests alignment with Devon Carbon Plan, currently aimed at 50% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 and net zero by 2050, citing "technical and financial challenges ahead", although change in policy would require decision by councillors after 6 May local elections.

Devon Carbon Plan consultation finds majority want net zero by 2030

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Devon Carbon Plan consultation finds majority want net zero by 2030

Devon Climate Emergency Response Group questions whether 2030 "realistic" and suggests "palatable" compromise while only 13% of consultees support UK government's 2050 target.

High Court rules council meetings must resume in person after local elections

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

High Court rules council meetings must resume in person after local elections

Case seeking judgement to allow local authority meetings to continue remotely when temporary coronavirus regulations expire fails to override requirement for primary legislation.

2021 Exeter local elections guide

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

2021 Exeter local elections guide

Elections for Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and the Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner are taking place in Exeter on 6 May. Our essential election guide highlights wards and divisions to watch, changes taking place and how, when and where to vote.

World Meteorological Organization report confirms "relentless" intensification of climate crisis despite pandemic lockdowns

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

World Meteorological Organization report confirms "relentless" intensification of climate crisis despite pandemic lockdowns

2020 set to be equal warmest year on record despite cooling La Niña while Internal Energy Agency warns post-pandemic economic stimulus expected to drive second largest annual increase in carbon emissions in history and UK emissions set to overshoot 2030 target by 40%.

Independent county councillor Claire Wright stands down

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Independent county councillor Claire Wright stands down

First elected to Ottery St Mary Town Council in 2009, the parliamentary candidate for East Devon in 2015 and 2017 also served on East Devon District Council for four years and Devon County Council for eight years.

Okehampton to Exeter "Dartmoor Line" passenger rail service reinstatement confirmed

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Okehampton to Exeter "Dartmoor Line" passenger rail service reinstatement confirmed

£40 million Department for Transport "Restoring your Railway" funding to enable trains every two hours by end of this year, with plans to increase to hourly service during 2022. Stakeholders combine to get South West infrastructure needs onto Whitehall agenda.

Atmospheric concentration of CO2 now 50% above pre-industrial levels

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Atmospheric concentration of CO2 now 50% above pre-industrial levels

Met Office says 2021 will be first year on record in which symbolic threshold breached for more than a few days as UK prepares to host COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Door to door campaigning for May local elections to go ahead after all

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Door to door campaigning for May local elections to go ahead after all

Government announces relaxation of coronavirus restrictions on election canvassing from next Monday 8 March in step with planned lockdown rule changes.

Report places Devon County Council among UK's top local authority fossil fuel investors

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Report places Devon County Council among UK's top local authority fossil fuel investors

£157 million of Devon Local Government Pension Scheme is invested in companies including Royal Dutch Shell, BP, BHP, Anglo American and ExxonMobil despite local authority climate emergency declarations and carbon reduction commitments.

May local elections to go ahead despite COVID-19 challenges

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

May local elections to go ahead despite COVID-19 challenges

Ban on doorstep canvassing and door to door leaflet distribution likely to favour the two major parties on 6 May as postal and proxy voting encouraged in Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and Devon & Cornwall Police and Crime Commissioner elections.

Exeter Science Park STEMM "grow-out building" construction begins

NEWS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Exeter Science Park STEMM "grow-out building" construction begins

A new specialist centre for fast-growth Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths & Medicine businesses will be completed by November 2021.

District heating network planned for new South West Exeter development

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

District heating network planned for new South West Exeter development

Local councils are investing up to £7.3 million in a £23 million project to supply a development of 2500 homes with heat which depends on the Marsh Barton waste incinerator, Exeter's largest single source of carbon emissions.

University research consortium launches "Accelerate to Net Zero" project

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

University research consortium launches "Accelerate to Net Zero" project

The GW4 Alliance of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter universities has launched a collaborative project aimed at accelerating decarbonisation across South West England and Wales.

First Liveable Exeter homes are substandard "warehousing for people" which is student accommodation "in all but name"

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

First Liveable Exeter homes are substandard "warehousing for people" which is student accommodation "in all but name"

Harlequins shopping centre redevelopment approved by Exeter City Council includes 251 co-living units in seven storey tower block despite widespread opposition from conservation charities and community campaigners who have since appealed to the Secretary of State to call in the decision.

Council abandons temporary COVID-19 cycling and walking safety plans in Exeter city centre

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Council abandons temporary COVID-19 cycling and walking safety plans in Exeter city centre

Devon County Council cites "pushback" from traders as schemes on North Street, South Street, Fore Street and Cowick Street are scrapped. Meanwhile temporary changes in Topsham are dropped after "snap poll".

Is the "Net Zero" Exeter plan fit for purpose?

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Is the "Net Zero" Exeter plan fit for purpose?

Exeter City Futures' carbon reduction plan ignores over a million tonnes of carbon emissions and massively underestimates the challenges facing the city.

Exeter rough sleepers in COVID-19 emergency accommodation face uncertain future

ANALYSIS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Exeter rough sleepers in COVID-19 emergency accommodation face uncertain future

Exeter City Council has yet to confirm whether it will use any of the £2.15m Rough Sleeping Initiative funding it has received since 2018 to keep housing rough sleepers when government emergency accommodation funding runs out.

Devon County Council fails to deliver promised COVID-19 cycling and walking infrastructure

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Devon County Council fails to deliver promised COVID-19 cycling and walking infrastructure

Deadline for action on social distancing for safe travel set by county cabinet member passes despite Devon receiving £1.7 million share of government emergency fund.

Coronavirus exposes council failure to deliver Exeter transport plans

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Coronavirus exposes council failure to deliver Exeter transport plans

Devon County Council's failure to deliver overdue Exeter transport strategy and cycling and walking plan has led to an inadequate response to government demands for emergency coronavirus road layout changes.

Coronavirus halts decision to spend £3.9 million on car park repairs and upgrade

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Coronavirus halts decision to spend £3.9 million on car park repairs and upgrade

Exeter City Council spending plans will be revisited in June at same time as Net Zero Exeter carbon reduction plan is discussed by Executive.

Exeter's first "zero carbon" housing development includes 96 car parking spaces for 40 homes

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter's first "zero carbon" housing development includes 96 car parking spaces for 40 homes

Exeter City Council has approved plans to develop land at Pinhoe with a parking ratio of 2.4 cars per household as part of an "exemplar scheme for future residential development in the city" while accepting that zero carbon construction comes "at a cost to the provision of affordable housing".

Cranbrook town centre community building application submitted

NEWS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Cranbrook town centre community building application submitted

Devon County Council is to develop new town centre facilities including a children's centre with public health nursing provision, youth centre with indoor and outdoor recreational spaces and library with small café.

Exeter City Council announces £1.584m April budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 restrictions

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Council announces £1.584m April budget shortfall caused by COVID-19 restrictions

Council revenues have fallen dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting a £6.357 million capital spending deferment. But financial support from government has so far been limited.

Half of COVID-19 support grants unclaimed by Exeter businesses

NEWS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Half of COVID-19 support grants unclaimed by Exeter businesses

Exeter City Council in bottom third of local authorities as only 45% of eligible local businesses claim government coronavirus support money.

Conservative vote share varies across Devon but still blocks an Independent MP in East Devon

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Conservative vote share varies across Devon but still blocks an Independent MP in East Devon

Labour loses vote share in every constituency, but retains Exeter and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport to leave the county position unchanged from 2017.

Conservatives hold Topsham in Exeter city council by-election

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Conservatives hold Topsham in Exeter city council by-election

A by-election held on general election day produced an unusually high turnout but a lower Conservative vote share than at the May local elections.

East Devon Independent Claire Wright set to unite Remain voters in close historic two-way contest

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

East Devon Independent Claire Wright set to unite Remain voters in close historic two-way contest

Claire Wright is poised to make history by beating the Tories in East Devon next week. If she does it will be without thanks to the LibDems and Greens, who insisted on standing candidates against her despite the preferences of local party members and the Unite to Remain campaign.

GALLERY  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter climate strikers create human chain around County Hall

Fridays for Future Exeter led a march through the city to form a human chain around County Hall in protest at climate change inaction.

University of Exeter staff strike over pay, pensions and working conditions

NEWS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

University of Exeter staff strike over pay, pensions and working conditions

The Exeter branch of the University & College Union (UCU) is taking part in a national eight day strike for fair pay and pensions, including equal pay for female and BAME staff, and against casualisation and increasing workloads.

Exeter youth climate strikers launch Green New Deal for Devon

ANALYSIS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter youth climate strikers launch Green New Deal for Devon

Fridays For Future Exeter have published a detailed vision of a more equitable future that calls on elected representatives across the county to recognise the climate crisis as a symptom of a dysfunctional political economy.

Thousands march in Exeter for global climate strike as millions mobilise worldwide

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Thousands march in Exeter for global climate strike as millions mobilise worldwide

Fridays for Future Exeter led 3500 people on a climate crisis demonstration through the city backed by dozens of organisations on the eve of the UN Climate Action Summit in New York.

Education union challenges university to address widespread casualisation of teaching staff

NEWS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Education union challenges university to address widespread casualisation of teaching staff

Exeter University & College Union (UCU) launched an anti-casualisation campaign on Friday as a prelude to negotiation with the University of Exeter over academic staff contracts.

GALLERY  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter Extinction Rebellion Wave of Water march

Extinction Rebellion campaigners marched through Exeter city centre led by a samba band and dressed in blue to represent a wave of water, highlighting rising sea levels and the coming global water crisis.

Mock funeral march brings Exeter city centre to a sombre standstill

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Mock funeral march brings Exeter city centre to a sombre standstill

Extinction Rebellion campaigners brought the gravity of the ecological emergency home to Exeter on Saturday in a funereal procession commemorating wildlife loss caused by climate change.

We already know what to do about the climate crisis. We must get on with doing it as fast as we can.

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

We already know what to do about the climate crisis. We must get on with doing it as fast as we can.

Exeter and Devon council leaders must begin rapid regional decarbonisation now. The quickest, cheapest way to cut emissions in Exeter is to deter combustion engines from entering the city. Clean air legislation offers a basis for action.

Is EU membership essential to our ability to deal with the climate emergency?

COMMENT  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Is EU membership essential to our ability to deal with the climate emergency?

Molly Scott Cato, Green Party MEP for the South West, visited Exeter during her re-election campaign to explain why the EU and its Green Group is leading the way on a wide range of progressive policies.

Mount Radford Lawn development proposals conflict with St Leonards community vision

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Mount Radford Lawn development proposals conflict with St Leonards community vision

Exeter Deaf Academy hopes to sell a school playing field to developers who plan to build luxury homes. Local residents have other ideas about how best to use the land. A dispute is looming over an historic green space driven by prospective profit from planning gain.

Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019

NEWS  ⁄  ARTS & CULTURE

Rainbow Trail LGBTQIA+ exhibition queers RAMM for Exeter Pride 2019

A new collaboration between X-Plore Youth Devon, Exeter College LGBTQ+ society, Natalie McGrath of Dreadnought SW and Dr Jana Funke of the University of Exeter explores gender and sexual diversity across time, place and culture by reimagining objects from the RAMM collections.

Exeter Labour loses local elections in all three city centre wards

NEWS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter Labour loses local elections in all three city centre wards

Voters in Exeter yesterday elected three new councillors to represent them in the key wards that cover the city centre, with all the city's ruling Exeter Labour group candidates missing out despite the party's confident campaign.

Local resident stands as independent candidate in Exeter elections

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Local resident stands as independent candidate in Exeter elections

Jemima Moore is a 36 year-old part-time primary school teacher and mother of two young children with little political experience. So why has she decided to stand for election to Exeter City Council on 2 May?

Exeter Extinction Rebellion stages climate emergency protest

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter Extinction Rebellion stages climate emergency protest

Today around 70 people joined the Exeter branch of Extinction Rebellion on the city's streets to demand urgent action to minimise the risk of catastrophic impacts from climate change.

Exeter St James regeneration

COMMENT  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter St James regeneration

How can the supply of low-cost, incrementally investable city centre accommodation be stimulated to attract and retain creative, technically-skilled young entrepreneurial talent?

Streets are for people, not cars

COMMENT  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Streets are for people, not cars

Cars adversely affect economic output, air quality and wellbeing, take up valuable space when parked and discourage people from walking and cycling when driven. Reducing their use would enhance Exeter's retail and leisure offer, improve public health and attract needed workers to the city.

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
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