Under Labour, Exeter’s council tax rates have been consistently one of the lowest in the country. Just 8p out of every £1 that residents pay in council tax goes to Exeter City Council. This is a testament to the well run nature of a Council that has been under Labour control for the majority of the last 30 years.
We took the decision this year to freeze Council tax at last year’s rate. Our costed budget sets out how, over the coming year, we will be making £1 million savings while protecting the services which the citizens of Exeter need most.
We can no longer just manage our budgets better; we have to manage our business differently. We aim to streamline the council’s systems, a process which has already seen a £500,000 per year saving through reductions in senior management.
We are committed to getting the best value for taxpayers’ money while improving the delivery of our services and investing sustainably and strategically to secure the future of our city.
This Manifesto sets out our vision for Exeter.
Exeter: Housing our Communities
Our ambition is to build communities where everyone has a home. The housing problems we face across the city demand a range of measures to solve them so that everyone, regardless of income, has a safe and secure place to live.
We strive to provide 35% of all new build developments as social housing. This is our first priority and will continue to be while our city has a waiting list of over 7000 people. We are firmly committed to providing homes for rent that people can afford, and we will retain the current system of setting council rent.
We are dedicated to finding new and innovative solutions to Exeter’s housing needs and we will introduce a cooperative and mutual model of home ownership, where people are given stability and equity while retaining housing stocks.
Exeter: A City of Growth and Business
It was a Labour-run Council which had the vision to deliver Princesshay for Exeter. We will continue this vision as we redevelop the Bus Station site to include a swimming pool and new open spaces.
Our investment in the city centre has helped to support a strong high street against a difficult national picture. It is our priority to keep retail within the heart of the city as well as supporting our district shopping areas including Cowick Street, Fore Street Heavitree, Magadalen Road, Topsham, Pinhoe and Whipton Village Shops.
Under Labour, Exeter is open for business – the arrival of John Lewis shows business knows that our city is a good investment. This investment is key to our success; we will continue to work in partnership to deliver Exeter Science Park so high-tech businesses can locate here and thrive.
Creating opportunities and jobs, particularly for young people, is vital to our city’s continuing prosperity, but we must also ensure our residents are able to take advantage of these opportunities. We will continue to work closely with our partners in business and education to support local people, and we will lead by example through an Exeter City Council Apprenticeship Scheme, equipping people with skills and vital work experience. Investing in skills will also enable the city to attract a greater range of high quality jobs.
Exeter: Quality of Life
The network of parks across Exeter provides local people with a free, year round community resource. They also provide the backdrop to events throughout the year from Heavitree Fun Day in the Pleasure Grounds to the Food & Drink Festival in Northernhay Gardens.
We are committed to maintaining and improving play facilities across Exeter, including the water play facilities in Heavitree and St Thomas, which are so important to families in the city. We will also make much-needed refurbishments to the popular Flowerpot Skatepark.
This year, to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, we hope to rename the Wonford Playing Fields the ‘Queen Elizabeth II Playing Fields’ as part of a scheme to create a new trust, protecting this site against future development.
Exeter: A Sustainable City
Exeter is growing both economically and by population, but this must not be at the expense of our environment. We are dedicated to lowering the city’s carbon footprint through a range of initiatives and promoting a greener culture.
We will continue to roll out our solar panel scheme for council houses across Exeter. This deal with EON will see residents benefitting from the scheme save an average of £190 a year on their bills.
We all want to see fewer cars on our roads, which is why we support the Devon Metro initiative and its aim of making it easier for people to travel locally by train. We will work with partners to improve the bus service and we will continue to support the spread of cycling and walking routes in Exeter. But we also want to help drivers to make greener choices, so we plan to install charging points for electric cars in the city centre, initially in the refurbished John Lewis Car Park.
Exeter already has an excellent record for recycling rates; a record boosted through the introduction of the Pinbrook and Matford Recycling Centres. 35 tonnes of recyclable waste is collected from households every day, saving Exeter money by reducing the amount of waste being sent to the landfill. We remain committed to maintaining and improving this record.
We are also dedicated to our educational ‘Green Team’ initiative in schools across the city, extending the recycling message to the younger generations. With our partners in the Exeter Wild City project, we will work to protect our urban wildlife and we will aim to create green corridors as Exeter grows.
Exeter: Thriving communities
We are committed to working with all Exeter’s communities and empowering residents to have a greater say in how their public services are delivered.
We recognise the fantastic work that it is already done by local communities, and we will continue to work with voluntary, public and private sector partners to develop new community involvement throughout Exeter.
In all our work we remain committed to diversity and equality and continue to support the annual Respect Festival, which has fast become a highlight of the city’s vibrant cultural calendar. We will also support initiatives like the Exeter Cultural Partnership in strengthening the artistic life of the city for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.
We are proud of Exeter’s Fairtrade City status and will continue to promote Fairtrade as an outward-looking, international city.