In these difficult times the work of the Council continues. Our bin crews, for example, are working very hard and very diligently, they’ve got a major task on, just like all of the workers on the frontline day to day, putting themselves at risk for all of us. It is our duty to do what we can to stay safe and support the key workers in our community.
But not everybody sees all the work we are doing – there’s a lot of work in the background. I’ve spoken before about how we’ve got together a board of key players in Exeter, ranging from the university and college to the chief constable, construction companies, Chamber of Commerce, Great Western Railway, the bus company and many others. In all of our interests is how we build back better, and how we see Exeter and the sub-region going forward.
We obviously want to get back to where we were economically – being a driver for jobs and clean growth. But we want to improve our economy going forward, and we don’t want to replicate all of the bad stuff. Reducing carbon emissions is very important to us. We now have a roadmap to becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and we are our consulting on that. There are a number of different work streams taking place and we will be spending the coming weeks talking to our partners in Exeter.
That partnership approach is very important, because the Council can’t do everything on its own. I see our role is basically to facilitate and work with businesses and those key agencies in and around Exeter. This city grows to around 130,000 people during the working day, and there are over 35,000 journeys coming into Exeter. I’m not so sure we want people to continue travelling in that way. But it’s a big challenge, particularly now when people are being told that if they are returning to work they should avoid public transport – that poses us a dilemma on the climate question. We need to work together to make sure that we can build back Exeter better.
I’m absolutely convinced that the city can come back. It took us a long time to get to where we were, and it can collapse so easily if we are not careful. We will work with businesses because people want jobs and people need jobs – that is how we survive, by providing for our families, and that’s what everybody in the city wants to do.
The guidelines have changed slightly, and like everybody else I am pleased that we can take some more exercise, but we need to be very careful. The ‘R Factor’ that we now all know about is so important. The South West could easily spike again if we are not careful. We just need to be so mindful of how we move forward. If we are going to a recycling centre, garden centre or wherever people are going to go, social distancing is so important.
We are social animals – we all love to be with people. We’ve never really realised that until now, but we need to make sure it is safe. We’ve done very well in Exeter and we need to continue to do very well in Exeter. If we do that, our future is looking very bright.
Cllr Phil Bialyk
Leader, Exeter City Council