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We continue to work hard on recovery and building back better

Published: 24 June 2020

Leader Column Councillor Philip Bialyk, Leader of the Council

It is pleasing that everyone in and around Exeter is playing their part in the current situation whether they are staying at home or social distancing. We are continuing to support businesses through the distribution of grants. Many businesses in and around the city are tenants and we understand the problems they are facing and we are working with them.

We are working hard still in the communities and we haven’t forgotten the shielded group and the vulnerable. Our Exeter Community Wellbeing helpline 01392 265000 is still there and people can still contact us if they need help or want to help.

Our next big issue is how we bring back a recovery for Exeter. Exeter has always been a successful city, we’ve worked hard to keep it up there and now we have to work even harder to get ourselves back there.

We are working with key agencies, the construction industry, the retail industry and the transport industry on what we want our city to look like going forward. We are pleased the County Council have been doing some of the pop-up schemes and we are working with them on some of the permanent schemes around the city.

We understand that people need cars at that moment and we will have to live with that. But what we also understand is that changes will have to be made going forward, and we will be having discussions with everybody involved in that.

The recovery is very important to the city. There are a lot of jobs depending on it. We have got the biggest travel to work catchment area in the country and we need a good transport infrastructure.

The City Council is here to help the residents of Exeter, the communities and businesses. But we are not immune from the impacts of Covid-19. Many people have complained about our car park charges, but this is an important and valuable source of income to the Council, since our reliance on national funding has been reduced over the last 10 years. We have had a big financial hit, and I am obliged by central government to ensure we balance the books during the course of this year.

I will bring forward an Emergency Budget in July. It will mean we will have to endure some temporary hardships this year. We will be clear that we want to keep frontline services open, protecting the vulnerable in society, as we need to do. But it maybe that your grass may not be cut as often as it currently is, and the same with some other services.

I am confident that by working together we can pull through this. We are making representations to Government, and I am hoping they will support us in order for us to support the city.

We will be working with Government to get our leisure facilities open as soon as possible. Our current leisure contract soon comes to an end soon and we are currently discussing how we provide for leisure services in the city. I am hoping to make an announcement on that very shortly.

It is so pleasing to see St Sidwell’s Point rising above the ground now. We will have a first class leisure centre here in the city during the course of next year. I also recognise the ongoing problems at the Riverside, and that is why we have allocated further money. We need to replace the roof. We cannot continue the way we have been, and we have now made provision to do a complete refurb. I am sorry that we have had so many delays.

Armed Forces Day was remembered virtually this year. It is important not to forget about those who are still engaged in protecting the country and representing our country throughout the world.

Finally, I was delighted with Exeter City’s play-off success this week. Getting to Wembley again is a great achievement and will give everyone a boost in the city. I really look forward to the final and I wish them every success.

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