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Exeter again recognised as one of the best places to live in the UK

Published: 19 October 2023

Exeter again recognised as one of the best places to live in the UK Councillor Philip Bialyk, Leader of the Council

I have to start by saying it is sad to hear Exeter Carnival will not take place this year. It is disappointing because people really enjoyed it last year when it returned followed a long break. Sadly, the organisers InExeter have said that the sheer scale of organising this event has proved prohibitive, and we understand that.

We supported the carnival and it is sad to hear it won’t return, but we understand the reasons for it and I know that the proposed Christmas lights switch on event will be a big success, and I’m looking forward to it.

Exeter remains a great place to live, work and visit – you don’t just have to take my word for it. We recently hosted representatives from The Academy of Urbanism who have shortlisted Exeter for European City of the Year, alongside Amersfoort in the Netherlands and Estepona in Spain. It was great to meet the panel and showcase Exeter, and they were impressed with what they saw.

Exeter has also just been recognised as one of the best places in the UK to retire in a national survey, which is more good news. Exeter is a young city and a university city, but this demonstrates it is a great place for people of all ages – we are an urban city with a rural backdrop, close to the coast and with great access, so I was delighted to see others recognise what we have to offer.

Talking of successes, I was pleased to see the Council’s retrofit programme recognised with another national accolade, this time winning second place for Project of the Year at the National Energy Efficiency Awards, and also being awarded a special commendation in the Local Authority of the Year category. Retrofitting homes and making them energy efficient is important for the climate and equally important for residents, who see a reduction in fuel bills. We will all start feeling the impact of rising bills shortly, so this is so important.

Many of us would like to see our homes become more energy efficient but don’t always know where to go for the best advice. The Council works with Exeter Community Energy (ECOE) which offers a free energy advice service for Exeter residents.

In the last budget we had to identify savings because of cuts in Government grants, and part of those savings were to remove less well-used waste bins. Our team identified a number which were in the wrong location or under-used – around 200 of the 800 bins we operate. We still maintain bins in strategic places like the High Street and main shopping areas where footfall is high.

Many people have been in touch with myself and other councillors regarding the removal of bins. We are in the process of monitoring their removal and looking to see if it appropriate to put any back. Areas like parks, shopping areas and the Green Circle are constantly being reviewed to ensure that the right provision is in place. So thank you to everyone who has contacted me about this, and all comments and feedback will be carefully considered.

Transport and connections in Exeter remain an issue that we must get right to maintain Exeter as a sustainable place to live, work and play. I have had conversations with the bus company, and we all understand the problems they have had with staffing and financial challenges following Covid.

I have asked for improvements on the services across the city, where once we had a regular and reliable services. This is the main issue people bring to me – regularity and reliability. I know that the company are doing their best and I continue to work with them to see our services improve.

As a Council we have recently had to reach a difficult decision to recommend that our development company effectively ceases trading. Times are very tough for the construction industry, and we have seen many companies going out of business. We have delivered housing, and projects like Vaughan Road will continue to be delivered.

But it basically means that we will now have to work in partnership with the construction industry to bring housing forward, which we still have aspirations to do, together with the Council housing we are building.

Finally, I’m looking forward to watching Exeter City’s EFL Cup fourth round cup clash with Middlesborough later this month – it will be a great occasion for the club. The Chiefs have also started the new season as they mean to continue with a great win over Saracens. Sport is so important for Exeter, and I know everyone in the city will continue to get behind our teams as they push for success.

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