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Leader's Column: we are all so proud of what Exeter Chiefs have achieved

Published: 28 October 2020

Exeter City Council Leader Phil Bialyk

I want to start with praising the extraordinary efforts of Exeter Chiefs in completing the Premiership and European double. What a fantastic achievement!

This is an historic event for the city and has given us all a huge lift. It is great for the Chiefs, the staff, Rob Baxter and Tony Rowe - it’s their achievement, and we are all so proud of their achievement for the city.

We are discussing with the Chiefs how we can share their celebration. We would be delighted to help them celebrate in any way that is possible at the moment.

The Chiefs do so much to put Exeter on the map. I’ve said it before, but the spotlight it puts on Exeter to be continually mentioned on national television is fantastic for the city.

We are now the best team in the northern hemisphere. It has all come from humble beginnings, when you consider where we were 10 or 15 years ago.

It was a real bonus for the city and has really cheered us up, which at this difficult time is so important. We’ve all got a spring in our step and a smile, and obviously when the new season starts we will be right behind them again.  

Talking of honours, I’d like to congratulation our Director Jo Yelland on being awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. Jo has been recognised for Services to Reducing Health Inequalities, and we are very proud of her achievement. Likewise Julian Tagg, of Exeter City Football Club, also awarded a BEM. His service to the club and the city has been fantastic over the many years, and again it is very well deserved.

People have quite rightly been upset about the government’s inaction to ensure that children who relied on free school meals should not go hungry this half-term. Many Councils and businesses have come together to help those in need. We don’t have the responsibility in this area, although we recognise that families in need should and will continue to be supported in our city.

Exeter has a thriving voluntary and community sector which has come into its own through the pandemic, with the Council providing practical support and coordination through Wellbeing Exeter Community Builders and the COVID Community Action Grant Fund.

During the pandemic, new and existing community groups and organisations stepped up to look after neighbours and the most vulnerable. Thousands of meals were prepared and distributed by local groups and the Council’s support network Exeter Community Wellbeing, which also co-ordinated a food distribution hub supporting people on the NHS Shielding Programme.

There are a range of existing local platforms in place for those in real need, including Exeter Foodbank, FoodCycle Exeter and hyper local business and community larder offers.

The Council also provides a Wellbeing Hardship Fund for individuals on low incomes who may be struggling at this difficult time. Applications can be made online or by calling Exeter Community Wellbeing on 01392 265000.

This week we’ve published our Recovery Plan, Building Back Exeter Better. We’ve worked with businesses and all the key agencies in Exeter on a long term plan, which will hopefully be adopted by the Council so we can start lobbying to make the plan work.

I am pleased to announce that cases of COVID-19 at Exeter University are now going down. The university have handled the outbreak well, in collaboration with many different agencies, and there is no evidence of wider community transmission. That said, numbers are increasing in the community in line with the rise across the region, and we must continue to be vigilant.

This half term week, when lots of people are out and about they must stay safe and stick to the guidance on social distancing, just as we have been doing. We are in tier one - and that’s where we want to stay.

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