Democracy & Governance
Exeter City Council 2022 annual meeting 17 May 2022

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.

Exeter City Council party seat distribution after 2022 local elections

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.

2022-23 band D council tax charges ranges (England)

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 graphic

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.

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

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.

Vaughan Road Exeter City Living development site

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.

Exeter City Council in session at Exeter Guildhall

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.

Guildhall shopping centre sale brochure cover

£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.

Karime Hassan, Phil Bialyk, Tony Rowe and Paul Thomas at Sandy Park hotel development site

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.

Liveable Exeter Place Board agenda October 2020 redacted

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

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.

Exeter City Council 2021 election results ballot share percentage by ward

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.

Exeter City Council in session at Exeter Guildhall - Inauguration of Lord Mayor

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.

Electoral Commission ballot box graphic

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.

Exeter Guildhall needs repairs

£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.

Independent councillor Jemima Moore campaigns in Newtown during the 2019 Exeter local elections

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.

Exeter City Council offices on Paris Street

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".

Exeter polling station

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.

St. Sidwell's Point development site outline aerial view

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

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 Princesshay deserted under COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown

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.

Exeter City Council accounts delayed by auditors Grant Thornton

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.

2019 parliamentary elections - Devon Conservative vote share change bar chart

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.

Exeter election polling station

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 2019 general election candidate

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.

2019 Devon County Council Heavitree & Whipton Barton by-election Exeter vote share swing bar chart

Exeter Labour support collapses in Heavitree & Whipton Barton county by-election

Greg Sheldon wins Devon County Council division by just 40 votes after Labour loses nearly a fifth of its previous vote share.

Exeter City Council cuts executive decision-making scrutiny

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

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

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

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?

Molly Scott Cato at the European Parliament

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.

Exeter City Council city centre wards map

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.

Jemima Moore campaigning in Exeter local elections

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 City Council press and public exclusion notice

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.


Help power our public interest journalism

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.

Cargo bike carrying kids in Exeter

If you think electric vehicles are the answer, you're asking the wrong question

Mike Walton of Exeter Cycling Campaign says we shouldn't be seduced by the motoring lobby into believing that electric cars can create the future we and our children need.

RMT campaign sticker on Exeter bus shelter

Stagecoach strike to take place following failed pay negotiations

Transport union RMT says Stagecoach pay offer is unsatisfactory and demands better conditions as staff shortages threaten services.

Planning & Place
Exeter Labour manifesto for Exeter City Council 2022 elections - front cover

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 student house in multiple occupation

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.

Individual overseas ownership of Exeter property titles 2010 to 2021 bar chart

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.

Arts & Culture
  • TUESDAY 24 MAY 2022

    The Shadow: a Devon for Ukraine fundraiser

    Soviet playwright Evgengy Schwartz' poetic and philosophical retelling of a Hans Christian Anderson tale is a subversive fable about choices we make for social and political gain and for love.

    MAKETANK

  • FRIDAY 27 MAY 2022

    Cast A Sheep's Eye: 16th and 17th century love songs

    Joe Levy and Konstantinos Terzakis perform Renaissance and Baroque music by Purcell, Dowland, Morley and others in a series of concerts in historic buildings.

    THE HALL, STEPCOTE HILL

  • SUNDAY 29 MAY 2022

    Sound Walks with Emma Welton

    Musician and sound artist Emma Welton is leading a series of Sunday afternoon sound walks as part of Exeter Dream Festival.

    MILL ON THE EXE

  • Climate & Environment
    Climate delay discourse typology

    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.

    Net Zero Exeter 2030 plan cover edit

    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.

    Devon council climate action plan Climate Emergency UK scorecard scores bar chart

    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.

    Community & Society
  • SUNDAY 15 MAY 2022

    Kidical Mass comes to Exeter

    Kidical Mass Exeter is holding its first family bike ride and picnic as part of a global campaign for safe cycling routes for children, young people and families.

    BELMONT PARK

  • SATURDAY 11-SUNDAY 12 JUNE 2022

    Exeter Respect Festival 2022

    Exeter Respect Festival returns to Belmont Park for its 25th anniversary with live music and performance, food stalls, campaigners and community groups.

    BELMONT PARK

  • SATURDAY 14 MAY 2022

    Exeter Pride 2022

    Exeter Pride returns for an in-person celebration of LGBTQIA+ diversity and visibility after moving online in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    NORTHERNHAY GARDENS

  • Economy & Enterprise
    Shops to let on Exeter High Street

    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.

    Job Centre Plus entrance

    Exeter workers to be among hardest hit by £20 cut in universal credit

    Analysis shows proportion of benefit claimants in Exeter in work is among highest in country.

    Centre for Cities Exeter City Monitor graphic

    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.