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Exeter can reflect on its successes in 2021 as we look forward to next year

Published: 16 December 2021

Council Leader Phil Bialyk provides an update on the latest developments in the city, looks back on the last year in Exeter and highlights what we can expect in 2022 in his latest Leader Column Council Leader Phil Bialyk

Covid is dominating the news again and we support everyone being vaccinated and urge people to book up and get the booster whenever they can. People should listen to the guidance and make sure they are socially distancing and wearing masks. None of us want to see restrictions, but we understand the need for everyone to be careful.

Wearing a mask is about protecting others as well as yourself, and that’s what we have to think about. As strong as we may be, and as protected as we may feel, we have to think about others, those who are vulnerable. We all need to do the right thing and keep ourselves and others safe.

The Council is continuing to support many families in Exeter who need extra help through the crisis. Funds have been made available and we are distributing grants and giving support to those families who need it at this time. We also continue to support the fantastic community organisations and groups in Exeter who do such a great job in supporting people in their local communities.

Exeter city centre is very busy at the moment with people getting ready for Christmas, and as long as they are following the guidance this is very welcome. We all want people to enjoy the whole Christmas period with their loved ones.

The Council recently made a very important announcement about our Chief Executive Karime Hassan dedicating some of his time directly to support our key priority of creating a Net Zero Carbon city by 2030. We declared a climate emergency in 2019, and we are two years on now. It is difficult without direct funding from central Government, but this remains a key priority for the Council.

We plan to allocate time for the Chief Executive to devote to Exeter City Futures, a key partnership that includes Devon County Council, Exeter College, Exeter University and the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital Trust.

We will of course ensure our directors at the Council take on extra responsibilities and make sure the work of the Council continues as usual. But this will allow Karime time to work with our major partners in the city, with businesses and the public sector, on leading Exeter’s response to the climate emergency, and I am confident this will make a real difference.

In looking forward to next year we need to look back and reflect on some of the achievements of the last 12 months.  As ever, a lot has happened in the city and we should reflect on some of our successes.

This year we’ve seen the opening of a brand new bus station, the near completion of our new leisure centre St Sidwell’s Point, the reopening of the Riverside pool, the beginning of the food waste collection roll-out, securing major new funds for housing and having the fastest growing economy in the South West, according to a report published last week.

These successes give us hope for the future and the momentum to create more success for our city in the year ahead.

The early part of 2022 will see the opening of St Sidwell’s Point, which will be a really fantastic facility for the people of Exeter. I was inside the building last week and the quality is absolutely incredible. I really cannot wait for it to open.

Next year will see us step up plans for our Liveable Exeter programme, which will see the creation of thousands of new homes over the next 20 years. We have secured funds to help us move forward to the next stage of creating new homes on a number of previously-developed brownfield sites. This will bring forward much needed new housing and is key to protecting the open green spaces on the fringes of Exeter.

We will progress plans for the roll-out of food waste collections in Exeter next year. This will take time, and is dependent on having funds available as well as drivers and vehicles. But I want to thank the residents of Alphington for the way they have responded to the new service.

Around 80 per cent of households are presenting their food waste for collection on a weekly basis and more than 10 tonnes of food waste was collected in the first four weeks since we began the service in November. This is a fantastic achievement.

So we have much to look forward to again next year in Exeter. I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and I hope that everyone can enjoy the festive period with their families and loved ones.

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