Accountability & transparency
Church Road traffic congestions

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.

Exeter City Council 2022 annual meeting 17 May 2022

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.

NEWSLETTER

Exeter Digest #11: Council decisions under scrutiny - Ukrainian refugee hub - Student HMOs taking over

Our eleventh newsletter also covers the city council's Devon climate assembly response, £144k Levelling Up delivery jobs and Exeter Development Fund scrutiny.

Vaughan Road Exeter City Living development site

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.

Exeter City Council in session at Exeter Guildhall

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.

Guildhall shopping centre sale brochure cover

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.

NEWSLETTER

Exeter Digest #10: Exeter City Futures secondments - Overseas property ownership - Net Zero Exeter plan found wanting

Our tenth newsletter also covers urban sprawl on Exeter's periphery, boundary commission hearings, Devon devolution dealings and the Levelling Up white paper.

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

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 titles 2010 to 2021 bar chart

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.

NEWSLETTER

Exeter Digest #9: Pennsylvania petitioners - Devon Pension Fund - University social mobility - Harlequins fate sealed

Our ninth newsletter is a bumper edition providing plenty of independent public interest journalism to keep you company on long midwinter evenings.

NEWSLETTER

Exeter Digest #8: Exeter carbon budget - Electric vehicles are not the answer - COP-EXE climate showcase - Bus shelter subvertising

In our eighth newsletter, a COP26 special, we review recent climate and environment stories, take a tour through some local winners and losers and present our pick of recent locally-focussed decarbonisation policy analysis.

NEWSLETTER

Exeter Digest #6: Liveable Exeter Place Board double bill - Scrutiny under scrutiny - Catastrophic climate change or cake?

In the sixth edition of our newsletter we review key stories from the past few weeks, get some perspective on our predicament and find some unlikely claims on a local Labour leaflet.

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.

NEWSLETTER

Exeter Digest #5: Second Harlequins "co-living" block? - Arts centre opens despite CityPoint threat - City of Culture bid - Parliamentary boundary review

In the fifth edition of our newsletter we review key stories from the past few weeks and announce the return of our community journalism training courses and workshops.

NEWSLETTER

Exeter Digest #4: University and council drop development standards - Exe valley under threat - Kinder Exeter community festival

In the fourth edition of our newsletter we also welcome trainee reporter Jenna McGill to the team and introduce the first Exeter Observer caption competition.

NEWSLETTER

Exeter Digest #3: Devon Pension Fund fossil fuel investment - SW Exeter district heating network - Exeter local election results

The third edition of our essential newsletter offers something for everyone on sunny bank holiday weekend.

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

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.

Exeter local elections campaign materials

BLOG

Do Exeter election leaflets stretch the truth and make promises that don't get delivered?

Help us hold candidates to account across the city by sending in campaign materials so we can factcheck them and test election pledges against what actually happens.

Electoral Commission ballot box graphic

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.

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.

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".

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 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.

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?

Jemima Moore campaigning in Exeter local elections

INTERVIEW  ⁄  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 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.

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