Peter Edwards sadly died in hospital following a short illness. Pete was an Exeter City Councillor for 30 years and leader of the Council from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.
At his last Council meeting before his retirement from the Council in April 2019 the Mayor, Rob Hannaford, said of Pete.
“Exeter has transformed from a sleepy city into a regional dynamic powerhouse. Businesses want to come and families want to settle here, and it is no coincidence that Peter as the leader of the council been at the helm and shaping and moving forward. Pete’s heart has always been in the city and his passion moulded it to what it is today.”
Phil Bialyk, his successor as Leader of Exeter City Council, worked closely with Pete Edwards whilst on the buses for Devon General and together as part of the Council’s political leadership. He said he would be sorely missed as a friend, former colleague and politician.
“I knew Pete for nearly 50 years and it is a privilege to call him my friend. You can see the impact that he had in the city and he leaves such a strong legacy. Pete was humble. Not even his family really saw the breadth of what he was delivering for the city. He spent his leadership genuinely looking out for the interests of the people of Exeter – many of which he would never meet.”
During Pete’s time as Leader, the city underwent many changes. He oversaw the much-needed refurbishment of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in 2011 and was at the helm when plans to redevelop the old bus station were revealed.
As a former bus driver, he was able to witness the new Bus Station opening earlier this year, but sadly unable to live to see the completion of the new St Sidwell’s Point Leisure Centre, which is expected to open in the coming months.
The former Leader was responsible for many of the city’s successes including bring the 2015 Rugby World Cup to Exeter and the Radio 1 Big Weekend to the city in 2017.
Housing was one of his key priorities and he played his part in helping deliver thousands of new homes in the city, many of which fit into the affordable category. Today, many of the City Council homes are built to low energy Passivhaus standards, affording tenants to make great savings on their energy costs.
He was instrumental in pushing for Exeter to become a unitary authority and take responsibility for key services like education and trading standards, which were run by Devon County Council. He spearheaded a strong campaign to become a stand-alone council responsible for everything in the city and was duly obliged in 2010 but the decision was reversed by the incoming government a year later.
He introduced the Living Wage at Exeter City Council and was key in bringing big names such as John Lewis and IKEA to the city.
He invested heavily in new flood defences to protect city homes and businesses and worked hard to bring on board Exeter City Futures to make the city energy independent and free of congestion.
He also had a hand in driving up Exeter’s recycling rates and making the city cleaner and greener.