Exeter Observer contributors

Peter Cleasby

Peter Cleasby is a contributing editor of Exeter Observer.

A former senior civil servant, specialising in policy development and managing public business, he subsequently became a freelance policy, management and governance consultant and a trustee of several national and local charities.

He has since escaped from the boardroom and works - unpaid, of course - as an Exmouth Coastwatch watch-keeper, Exeter Green Party research officer and campaigner for openness in public life, as well as doing any other interesting odd jobs that crop up from time to time.


Exeter Observer welcomes contributions from writers, editors and photographers who share our values and want to help produce our independent public interest journalism.

We offer support to help regular contributors develop story ideas and enhance their skills.

If you are considering contributing to Exeter Observer please see our contributors guide.

Recent stories
Exeter City Futures Exeter Development Fund presentation slide

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

E3 cycle route Chard Road modal filter

Exeter cycling & walking strategy five years late and counting

Liveable Exeter community engagement with council development director Ian Collinson

Property development promotion as community planning participation

Exeter Article 4 Direction area July 2011 map

St. James HMO conversion refusal overturned at appeal

Stagecoach app showing Exeter bus service delays and cancellations

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

Stories with Peter Cleasby
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, canal 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?


Help power our public interest journalism

News
Exeter Article 4 Direction area July 2011 map

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.

Monkerton masterplan map

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.

Exeter Statement of Community Involvement cover

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.

Analysis
Stagecoach app showing Exeter bus service delays and cancellations

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 Futures website - vision & mission summary

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.

Greenhouse gas protocol for cities - sources and boundaries of city greenhouse gas emissions (scale)

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.

Comment
Exeter City Futures Exeter Development Fund presentation slide

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.

E3 cycle route Chard Road modal filter

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.

Liveable Exeter community engagement with council development director Ian Collinson

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?

Notes & sketches
  • Race in pole position

    Exeter Labour looks set to pick Steve Race as the party’s parliamentary candidate at the next general election after retiring incumbent Ben Bradshaw anointed his former assistant as his heir apparent in what has been a fairly safe Labour seat since the 1997 landslide...

    DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

  • Bundling boards

    The third in a series of city council scrutiny meetings intended to satisfy councillors that Exeter Development Fund is a way to put Exeter on the map rather than the council’s financial viability at risk took place last week...

    DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

  • Irrationale by design?

    The second of two RAMM-hosted Liveable Exeter promotional events, focussed on Exeter’s future as a “garden city”, took place last night with the city council’s Director of City Development, Ian Collinson topping the bill...

    PLANNING & PLACE

  • The Exeter Digest

    Exeter Digest #15: Bus back better? - Net zero redundancy - Development fund under fire

    Our bumper holiday newsletter also covers a St. James' HMO appeal, planning enforcement changes, scope 3 emissions failure, cycling and walking strategy delays and property development promotion as community planning participation.

    Exeter Digest #14: Exeter beset - Alphington impacts - Magdalen Road - Community involvement?

    Our essential newsletter also covers continuing Exeter Development Fund scrutiny, missing meetings minutes from Exeter City Futures and Devon Climate Emergency Response Group, Liveable Exeter confusion and local design code reforms.

    Exeter Digest #13: Flowerpot Playing Fields under threat - Scrutiny circumvention continues - Kidical Mass rides into town

    Our thirteenth newsletter also covers city council spending on Instagram influencers, museum-fronted property development promotion, reports on local democracy and the role of councils in climate action and a government inquiry into the sustainability of local journalism.

    On the agenda
    New Exeter Local Plan

    New Exeter Local Plan draft consultation

    A consultation on the draft version of the new Exeter Local Plan, which will guide development in the city until 2040, is taking place this autumn.

    All topics

    ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY ACCOUNTABILITY & TRANSPARENCY   AFFORDABILITY AFFORDABILITY AFFORDABILITY   AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY AIR QUALITY   ALPHINGTON & COWICK ALPHINGTON & COWICK ALPHINGTON & COWICK   ALPHINGTON ALPHINGTON ALPHINGTON   BONHAY MEADOWS BONHAY MEADOWS BONHAY MEADOWS   CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE   COP26 COP26 COP26   COVID-19 COVID-19 COVID-19   CITYPOINT CITYPOINT CITYPOINT   CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE CLIFTON HILL SPORTS CENTRE   CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS CLIMATE CRISIS   CO-LIVING CO-LIVING CO-LIVING   CONGESTION CONGESTION CONGESTION   COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX COUNCIL TAX   CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE CROWN ESTATE   CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING CYCLING & WALKING   DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT   DEVON & CORNWALL POLICE & CRIME COMMISSIONER DEVON & CORNWALL POLICE & CRIME COMMISSIONER DEVON & CORNWALL POLICE & CRIME COMMISSIONER   DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN DEVON CARBON PLAN   DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL   DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND DEVON PENSION FUND   DURYARD & ST. JAMES DURYARD & ST. JAMES DURYARD & ST. JAMES   EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL EAST DEVON DISTRICT COUNCIL   EXETER AIRPORT EXETER AIRPORT EXETER AIRPORT   EXETER CANAL AND QUAY TRUST EXETER CANAL AND QUAY TRUST EXETER CANAL AND QUAY TRUST   EXETER CATHEDRAL EXETER CATHEDRAL EXETER CATHEDRAL   EXETER CITY COUNCIL EXETER CITY COUNCIL EXETER CITY COUNCIL   EXETER CITY FUTURES EXETER CITY FUTURES EXETER CITY FUTURES   EXETER CITY LIVING EXETER CITY LIVING EXETER CITY LIVING   EXETER CIVIC SOCIETY EXETER CIVIC SOCIETY EXETER CIVIC SOCIETY   EXETER COLLEGE EXETER COLLEGE EXETER COLLEGE   EXETER CULTURE EXETER CULTURE EXETER CULTURE   EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND EXETER DEVELOPMENT FUND   EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION EXETER EXTINCTION REBELLION   EXETER LIVE BETTER EXETER LIVE BETTER EXETER LIVE BETTER   EXETER LOCAL PLAN EXETER LOCAL PLAN EXETER LOCAL PLAN   EXETER PHOENIX EXETER PHOENIX EXETER PHOENIX   EXETER PRIDE EXETER PRIDE EXETER PRIDE   EXETER SCIENCE PARK EXETER SCIENCE PARK EXETER SCIENCE PARK   EXETER ST. 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LEONARD'S NEWTOWN & ST. LEONARD'S NEWTOWN & ST. LEONARD'S   NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS NORTHERNHAY GARDENS   OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE OXYGEN HOUSE   PARIS STREET PARIS STREET PARIS STREET   PARKING PARKING PARKING   PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT PENINSULA TRANSPORT   PENNSYLVANIA PENNSYLVANIA PENNSYLVANIA   PINHOE PINHOE PINHOE   PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY PLANNING POLICY   PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY PRINCESSHAY   PRIORY PRIORY PRIORY   PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT   PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION PUBLIC CONSULTATION   PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH PUBLIC HEALTH   PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM PUBLIC REALM   PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT PUBLIC TRANSPORT   PURPOSE BUILT STUDENT ACCOMMODATION PURPOSE BUILT STUDENT ACCOMMODATION PURPOSE BUILT STUDENT ACCOMMODATION   RAMM RAMM RAMM   REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING REFUSE & RECYCLING   RETROFIT RETROFIT RETROFIT   RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK RIVERSIDE VALLEY PARK   ROYAL DEVON & EXETER NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON & EXETER NHS TRUST ROYAL DEVON & EXETER NHS TRUST   SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET SIDWELL STREET   SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION SOUTH WEST EXETER EXTENSION   SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER SOUTH WEST WATER   SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY SOUTHERNHAY   SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT SPORT ENGLAND LOCAL DELIVERY PILOT   ST. DAVID'S & HAVEN BANKS ST. DAVID'S & HAVEN BANKS ST. DAVID'S & HAVEN BANKS   ST. DAVID'S ST. DAVID'S ST. DAVID'S   ST. LOYE'S ST. LOYE'S ST. LOYE'S   ST. SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST. SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE ST. SIDWELL'S COMMUNITY CENTRE   ST. SIDWELL'S POINT ST. SIDWELL'S POINT ST. SIDWELL'S POINT   ST. THOMAS ST. THOMAS ST. THOMAS   STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST STAGECOACH SOUTH WEST   TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL TEIGNBRIDGE DISTRICT COUNCIL   TOPSHAM TOPSHAM TOPSHAM   UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER UNIVERSITY OF EXETER  

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