Leader Column: I want to thank all of those involved in the bomb incident
Published: 3 March 2021
I want to start by thanking all the residents, emergency services, our staff and partner agencies, for the way in which they dealt with a very difficult situation at the weekend.
As soon as a very large Second World War bomb was unearthed in Glenthorne Road, it was clear a major evacuation operation would be needed involving dozens of properties, including people shielding and with complex needs, care home residents and 1,400 students.
The controlled denotation that took place on Saturday afternoon was a shock to many – the force of the blast could be felt across a wide area of the city. Despite all the precautions, including 400 tonnes of sand brought to the site, the blast caused some structural damage to a number of properties in the area.
We worked throughout the weekend with all our partners to help people when they needed it most. Since the police handed over the scene, we have been providing around the clock security to help homeowners as they start to rebuild their lives. It’s one of the many, largely unsighted things, that officers have done to help others. People are already getting to grips with the impact of the blast and we’ll continue to support them.
Many of those affected have now been allowed back to their properties, and we continue to provide whatever support and assistance is required.
Again, I want to thank the patience of everyone involved in this incident, which demonstrated once again how people come together in difficult times to help those most in need.
I want to pay tribute to all of our Council staff and those from other agencies who are working tirelessly to assist people through this ongoing situation. Anyone still requiring assistance should call our helpline on 01392 265000.
Since my last column, the city also experienced the tragic deaths of a young couple and a child in a house fire in St Davids. This awful news impacted the whole of the city, and our hearts go out to the family.
Last week the Council set its annual budget, made all the more difficult this year by the Coronavirus pandemic. We have to set a balanced budget which maintains the core services that we all as residents rely on in the city.
In my budget speech I highlighted why, even in these difficult times, we still have much to look forward to in Exeter this year. Our brand new leisure centre St Sidwell’s Point is rapidly emerging and looks absolutely fantastic. What a difference this will to our leisure offer in the city, which is now run directly by the Council.
The new Exeter Bus Station is also a huge boost for Exeter - it also looks great, and I can’t wait until these two new facilities open to the public this summer. They’ve been a long time coming – but I can assure you they will be worth the wait.
This summer will also finally see the reopening of the pool at the Riverside. This has taken much longer than any of us thought – a massive rebuilding programme to make sure this pool remains in use for future generations. Again, I can’t wait for it to reopen this summer.
We continue to work towards of our priority of creating a Net Zero Carbon City by 2030, and I am so proud of our council house building programme which will see 500 new Passivhaus homes built in the next few years. These low energy homes help lift residents out of fuel poverty while massively reducing carbon emissions.
We are set to launch a consultation with the Devon Wildlife Trust on the future of the former Northbrook approach golf course. I’m so pleased this area will be preserved and enhanced as open green space, for all the residents of our city to enjoy – a commitment I made a year ago. We now need to hear your views on how we can enhance it, while preserving and improving its biodiversity, and I would encourage people to give us their views.
These green spaces are so important to Exeter, and that is why we have pledged to maintain and improve them for the benefit of all.
As I said, we have much to look forward to. We have a sound recovery plan in place, in partnership with others in Exeter, and we are developing the skills agenda we need for Exeter to continue to thrive as we finally begin to ease out of lockdown and plan for the future.
If we continue to work together we will soon return to the good times that we are all so desperate to return.