2024 community share offer
2024 community share offer
Exeter Observer contributors

Peter Cleasby

Peter Cleasby is a regular contributor to Exeter Observer and is its transport correspondent.

After reading French and German at New College, Oxford he entered the civil service where he worked largely in policy development and business management across several departments, ending up as a deputy director in DEFRA. He was also a Treasury-accredited reviewer of high-risk programmes and projects.

On leaving the civil service, he freelanced as a policy, management and governance consultant and became a trustee of several national and local charities. He is also a long-standing member of Exeter Green Party.

Stories with Peter Cleasby
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.

Exeter St Thomas station

COMMENT  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Access for all? Mobility-impaired passengers still cannot catch their train from some Exeter stations

National railway accessibility policies fail to deliver local transport network access as Exeter St Thomas station improvement funding bid decision awaited.

Stagecoach subsidiary operating companies 2022-23 pre-tax profits bar chart

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Stagecoach South West posts largest losses in sector despite greatest growth in journey numbers

Lowest year on year revenue rise compounded by above average staffing costs increase as £2 bus fare cap continues to prop up passenger demand.

Land Trust garden community development of 3,000 homes at Beaulieu, near Chelmsford

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Liveable Exeter 'garden city' branding is about government funding, not green space

New Exeter Local Plan policy 'principles' have little in common with historic vision revitalised for 21st century by TCPA for government programme, while consented Haven Banks scheme and proposed new town near Exeter Airport have even less.

Exeter area bus services trends map

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Exeter bus services cut by nearly 42% since 2010, largest fall in area

Many of worst-affected neighbourhoods in areas where major developments planned or being built, some in Heavitree & Whipton Active Streets trial area.

Belluno Italian restaurant in Newton St Cyres

NEWS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Home Office fails in bid to shut down local restaurant

Hearing following December immigration raid revokes premises supervisor's authority and briefly suspends but stops short of revoking premises licence.

Belluno Italian restaurant in Newton St Cyres

NEWS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Home Office demands closure of local restaurant

The Home Office has asked Mid Devon District Council to revoke the premises licence at Belluno, an Italian restaurant in Newton St Cyres, effectively shutting down the business.

Exeter bus stuck in rush hour traffic

COMMENT  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

The road ahead for Stagecoach

Exeter's bus services remain a topic of criticism, but when buses fail to turn up it's too simplistic to blame the bus company. An interview with Stagecoach South West managing director Peter Knight helps explain why.

Exeter City Council 2022-23 councillors public meetings attendance bar chart

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Alphington worst represented ward as councillor attendance at public meetings varies widely across city

Consistent commitment to participation in democratic decision-making by some councillors in contrast with poor attendance rates of others.

Rough sleeping at Exeter Guildhall

ANALYSIS  ⁄  COMMUNITY & SOCIETY

Devon County Council social care cuts target homelessness services

£1.5 million homelessness prevention service funding cut will make situation worse for people who are homeless and at risk of homelessness and is likely to cost more than it saves.

Devon County Council National Bus Strategy Bus Services Improvement Plan cover image

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Future of Devon bus services being decided behind closed doors

Devon County Council does not want the public to hear whether local service improvements are going according to plan.

Exeter ticket zone map

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Stagecoach escapes major sanctions over service failures

Traffic commissioner decides four days of free weekend travel in Exeter Plus ticket zone is sufficient penalty for poor performance despite public inquiry hearing severe criticism of company.

Empty bus timetable

NEWS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Stagecoach proposes free travel and fast-tracked information upgrades to compensate for service failures

West of England traffic commissioner holds Exeter's principal bus operator to account at public inquiry, with final decision on performance expected this week.

Stagecoach app showing Exeter bus service delays and cancellations

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

Bus back better? Exeter services expected to remain unfit for purpose without needed changes

Government underfunding and bus sector challenges limit scope for improvement but county council failure to upgrade routes and policy ambitions plus high housing costs make Exeter difficulties acute, undermining net zero aspirations.

Exeter city councillors with low attendance levels during 2021-22 - stacked bar graph

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Low attendance levels among some councillors mean Exeter electors get varying value for their votes

As part of our 2022 Exeter local elections coverage we have assessed the past year's attendance figures for public council meetings as a measure of councillor commitment to their constituents.

Independent local business on Paris Street, Exeter

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Prospects improve for pop-up Paris Street and Sidwell Street tenants wanting to stay on development site

Council leader Phil Bialyk says it will be 'some years' before planned CityPoint redevelopment affects repurposed retail units, and that council 'would want' to accommodate artistic and cultural initiatives and independent local businesses 'should they wish to remain'.

Liveable Exeter Place Board agenda October 2020 redacted

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.

Exeter city centre from Exeter Cathedral roof

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Freedom of information requests reveal Liveable Exeter Place Board 'chumocracy' overseeing the city

Despite the significance of Liveable Exeter Place Board's role in determining the city's future, its members are selected and appointed on a secretive, informal basis.

Positive Light Projects - Sidwell Street entrance

ANALYSIS  ⁄  ARTS & CULTURE

Positive Light Projects opens community arts centre despite CityPoint redevelopment threat

Parts of Exeter city centre are experiencing an unplanned renaissance as small shops and cultural venues move in to fill empty units on Paris Street and Sidwell Street, but uncertainty remains as the council still plans to demolish and redevelop.

Centre for Cities Exeter City Monitor graphic

COMMENT  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Selective use of statistics presents an unbalanced account of Exeter's economic & environmental status

Exeter City Council's Chief Executive uses statistics to show the city in a good light, but in doing so presents a picture which omits important information about the city's true position.

Maclaines Warehouses beside Exeter ship canal

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Maclaines Warehouses development tests Exeter Heritage Harbour status

Decisions taken behind closed doors in favour of commercial interests threaten maritime and waterway heritage vision for Exeter's historic quay and canal basin.

Exeter Guildhall needs repairs

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

£37.5 million council maintenance backlog caused by underinvestment to be part-funded by asset sales

Exeter City Council has allowed property assets to deteriorate while prioritising new schemes including the £44 million St Sidwell's Point leisure centre, forcing it to identify assets for sale to pay its outstanding repair bills.

Exeter City Council offices on Paris Street

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Council pushes back on Liveable Exeter Place Board scrutiny following membership change

Exeter City Council has responded to an enquiry about disproportionate Church of England representation on the Liveable Exeter Place Board by accusing Exeter Observer of promoting a 'partisan narrative' and claiming our public interest reporting 'bears no resemblance to fact'.

Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital Wonford NHS Trust parking sign

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Hospital creates parking for 200 cars despite city climate crisis goals

Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital says new parking 'temporary' but no end-date given in planning application and no hard evidence of need provided.

St Sidwell's Point development site outline aerial view

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Council executive members take direct control of city planning decisions

Council's executive now possesses majority on city planning committee, with council leader and planning portfolio holder also included despite national guidance, offering basis to challenge decisions and increasing democratic deficit.

Food retailers at Queen Street Dining in Exeter Guildhall shopping centre

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Unelected Liveable Exeter Place Board created to oversee city from the shadows

Exeter City Council has convened an unelected board that meets in private, does not publish its discussions or decisions and is taking responsibility for major policies which will determine Exeter's future.

Exeter City Futures Net Zero Exeter 2030 plan

NEWS  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Exeter City Council accepts climate emergency plan to make city carbon neutral by 2030

Chief Executive warns that resourcing the plan is 'problematic' given COVID-19 financial challenges and that lack of resources limits the council's capacity for immediate practical action.

Exeter Cathedral and Quay car park top deck

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 City Futures Blueprint for a Carbon Neutral Exeter by 2030 graphic

COMMENT  ⁄  CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

Is Exeter finally responding to the climate emergency?

A surge of activity about action to combat climate change is taking place in Exeter, including the publication of a carbon neutral blueprint pending a 'mobilisation summit', but detail and evidence is still missing and community engagement is falling short of debate.

Exeter Paris Street construction site on which Roman remains were found

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Echoes of Exeter's Roman past reveal risks to city's future vision

The unexpected discovery of Roman remains on Exeter's bus station redevelopment site suggests significant risks may also exist for the adjacent CityPoint regeneration scheme.

Exeter net zero carbon housing pilot project in Chestnut Avenue in Wonford

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Exeter net zero housing revolution takes root in Chestnut Avenue

Exeter City Council is taking exploratory steps from talking about a zero carbon future to delivering one with a pilot housing project in Wonford.

Exeter City Council accounts delayed by auditors Grant Thornton

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter & East Devon council accounts delayed by Grant Thornton's 'lack of staff resources'

Annual accounts for local government, including Exeter City Council, have been delayed by private sector firms failing to complete their work on time after cost-cutting government auditing reforms.

Country Bus G service to Exeter Quay

ANALYSIS  ⁄  TRANSPORT & MOBILITY

An integrated public transport service for Devon remains a distant aspiration

A change to Exeter's G bus service operator has revealed the limits of Devon County Council's approach to transport system integration.

Heart of the South West Local Industrial Strategy branding

ANALYSIS  ⁄  ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

Will a new South West industrial strategy deliver what it promises?

Our business-led Local Enterprise Partnership appears committed to a new approach to driving growth which its CEO describes as 'game-changing'.

Exeter City Council cuts executive decision-making scrutiny

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter City Council cuts scrutiny of executive decision-making

Constitutional changes proposed by Exeter City Council will make it more difficult to hold the ruling political group to account.

Exeter anti-government protest Devon for Europe speaker

COMMENT  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter protest misses its mark by mixing its messages

One of Exeter's biggest ever street demonstrations combined anti-Brexit and pro-democracy concerns to produce a confused protest against government policy.

Exeter City Council public toilet closures Exeter Live Better hoarding

COMMENT  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Exeter could do better - was there no alternative to closing so many public toilets?

Exeter City Council did not need to close thirteen public toilets to balance the books. The money to keep them open was available in reserves, but no mention of this option was made during public decision-making by councillors or officers.

Exeter City Council public toilet closure notice

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

Caught short - balancing the books in a hurry

Exeter City Council has unapologetically confirmed its decision to close 13 public toilets as a money-saving measure with full knowledge of its expected effect on residents and visitors. Can we expect other spending cuts to be handled the same way?

Exeter Clifton Hill sports centre

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Clifton Hill sports centre – the background

Storm Emma met the Beast from the East and dumped a huge amount of snow on the roof of Exeter's Clifton Hill sports centre, setting off a chain reaction which has ignited two campaigns and put Exeter City Council's approaches to competence and openness into sharp focus.

Exeter City Council press and public exclusion notice

ANALYSIS  ⁄  DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

What does your council know that you don't know you don't know?

Extracting information from councils is hard work but increasingly necessary for local democracy.

Greater Exeter Strategic Plan banner

ANALYSIS  ⁄  PLANNING & PLACE

Is the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan GESPing for air?

The Greater Exeter Strategic Plan has been a long time in gestation. When it finally arrives, will it deliver?

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