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Leader column: Tour of Britain was a fantastic chance to showcase Exeter

Published: 23 September 2021

Tour of Britain was a fantastic opportunity to showcase our great city Councillor Philip Bialyk, Leader of the Council

I want to start with the Tour of Britain coming to Exeter - what a fantastic day.

It was a privilege to have Exeter featured so prominently as the finish for the Devon Stage. It was a real showcase for our city to be featured on live television and to the media who attended from all over the world.

It also brought thousands of people into the city centre and really brought Exeter to life. It was great to be part of it. Cycling is a great way of keeping fit and is a great sustainable transport, and if the Tour can encourage more people to take up cycling around our city that would be a fantastic legacy.

Read more: Thousands pack into Exeter city centre for Tour of Britain Devon stage finish

We are all now preparing for autumn and winter, and we need to continue to be careful because Covid is still with us - as well as the normal winter illnesses - so we all need to be careful and continue to look after each other and protect our NHS.

My wife Hannah and I have both recently had Covid, despite being double jabbed. I had a serious bout, and it took me some time to recover, which just emphasises the need for us all to continue taking this seriously and protect ourselves.

On a personal note, my close friend Terry Carr recently passed away after contracting Covid. Terry was very much embedded in his community and also within the family of football in Exeter. His funeral is on Friday and I know a lot of people will be paying their respects to Terry. He will be very much missed and my thoughts are with his lovely family at this time.

We are preparing to welcome the students back to Exeter and we have been having discussions with the university about Covid, and I am pleased the university are taking appropriate steps to ensure that both the students and the wider community stay safe. The university are doing a lot in terms of vaccinations and guidance to students, and we support them in this work.

Overall Exeter is recovering well from the pandemic and it is good to see the city coming back to life. Footfall in the city centre is strong and it is great to see so many people enjoying themselves.

Our local plan consultation started this week and runs for the next eight weeks, and I would urge everyone to have their say on how Exeter should develop in the future. Green spaces and the hills around Exeter are the thing that defines the city and they are such an important amenity for residents to share. This needs to be debated within our Local Plan and people should get involved in what we are trying to do.

Read more: Help shape Exeter's future

Exeter has a vision of building 12,000 new homes on predominantly brownfield sites over the next 20 years, while protecting the city’s green ridgeline. We believe this is the best way forward. But clearly we need to hear from residents to see what they think.

COP26 in Glasgow is coming soon, and there will be a lot of attention on the environment. We have our own plans in place to become Net Zero Carbon by 2030 and this remains a top priority for the Council. As I’ve said many times before, we can’t do this on our own – we need everyone in the city to come together.

I will be bringing forward proposals to a future Executive and Council on how the City Council, with our partners, can take a leading role. I will reveal more details on this as soon as I can.

Finally, I am pleased that the City will again be playing its part in assisting people from Afghanistan who need our help through the resettlement scheme, just as we did through the Syrian resettlement scheme. We will be fully participating in supporting Afghan families, many of who supported our Armed Forces, to build new lives in the country, and I’m pleased that Exeter is continuing to play its full part.

Read more: Resettlement Scheme for former Afghan interpreters

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