Accountability & transparency
Rob Hannaford and Karime Hassan at Exeter City Council's June 2022 strategic scrutiny committee meeting

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.

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.

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.

  • NOTES & SKETCHES

    We heart climate crisis

    Anyone who might have been tempted to believe that the climate crisis is at the heart of everything Exeter City Council does (as it repeatedly claims) need look no further than its response to the consultation on the Devon climate assembly’s output report for clarification...

    CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

  • 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.

  • NOTES & SKETCHES

    Democracy inaction

    Meanwhile the poor record of the county council-led Devon Climate Emergency Response Group on keeping the public informed about what it is up to reached a new low this month, when it simultaneously published the minutes of ten meetings on the same day, some from as long ago as August...

    CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT

  • NOTES & SKETCHES

    Public sector pay pals?

    Instead of announcing the biggest council funding rise for over a decade, Exeter City Council’s press team marked budget day by celebrating Exeter’s latest quarterly YouGov popularity rating. The Paris Street PR machine forgot to mention that those surveyed need never have visited the city...

    ECONOMY & ENTERPRISE

  • NOTES & SKETCHES

    Priory vs Pinhoe

    Initial proposals for changes to parliamentary constituency boundaries which will come into force in late 2023, and so are likely to affect the next general election, are currently out for consultation...

    DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

  • 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.

  • NOTES & SKETCHES

    Sound familiar?

    A Centre for Governance and Scrutiny report into Nottingham City Council’s “superficial and inadequate” scrutiny mechanisms has been published...

    DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

  • NOTES & SKETCHES

    Marking their own homework

    Exeter City Council’s ruling Labour group reallocated the city’s committee seats at its annual meeting last week...

    DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

  • NOTES & SKETCHES

    Follow the money

    Glenn Woodcock and Roli Martin of Global City Futures were invited to join the board which oversees the Devon Carbon Plan at its meeting last month and given the same decision-making powers as the rest of the board, which is almost exclusively composed of public sector organisations...

    DEMOCRACY & GOVERNANCE

  • 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.

    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

    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 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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