Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Exeter Elections, May 2012 - the issues

There are elections for Exeter City Council on 3 May (details here). So what are the main issues between the parties?

The current Exeter City Council


Exeter has been under Labour control for most of the last 30 years. Currently, Labour holds 19 out of the 40 seats, and so has minority control of the council. This means that it needs the support of councillors from other parties to pass controversial measures.

Labour is clearly pushing hard to gain majority control. It has a strong and increasing doorstep presence in the run-up to the election. Its website is simple but effective and contains full details of all its candidates. On Twitter it is well organised and nicely engaging. It is assisted by Exeter's eloquent MP Ben Bradshaw. And already Labour's leader Ed Miliband and deputy leader Harriet Harman have paid visits to Exeter.

Exeter Labour's priorities include:
  • more social housing, using cooperative and mutual models of home ownership
  • installing solar panels on council houses
  • redeveloping the Bus Station site to include a swimming pool and open spaces
  • setting up an Exeter City Council Apprenticeship Scheme
  • supporting the Devon Metro initiative
  • improving play facilities in the parks

Simon Bowkett, who is standing in Pinhoe for Labour, is keeping a blog of his campaign. Well worth a look.


Meanwhile, Exeter Conservative Party currently has 11 councillors. Their local election manifesto emphasises recycling and refuse collection because these services are "very often all people can physically see for their Council Tax".

Exeter Conservatives' priorities include:
  • setting up a ‘cash for recycling’ scheme
  • investigating restoring weekly collections in some areas
  • cutting the number of city councillors
  • scrapping councillor pensions
  • merging the council's newsletter with that of Devon County Council
  • reducing expectations about social housing and reprioritising the housing list

See also the Exeter Conservatives' website and Twitter. And Jake Donovan is active for Exeter Conservatives on Twitter.


Exeter Liberal Democrat Party currently has 9 councillors. It has not issued a citywide manifesto, preferring to emphasise the hard work that individual councillors put into representing local people.

For example in my ward (St James), the most recent leaflet discusses the scheme to re-route traffic from outside the new John Lewis to Blackall Road and York Road. "Labour members of the City Council have ignored the concerns of local residents and have relentlessly pushed through these changes."

Concerns about bins, parking, HMOs (Houses in Multiple Occupation) and unwelcome planning applications are common.

Meanwhile, the leader of the LibDem group has condemned Labour's excessive borrowing while running Exeter City Council. The party notes that no LibDem-run council in England has raised Council Tax. And LibDem councils are also most likely to be giving the lowest-paid council workers a pay rise.

See also the Exeter LibDems' website, Twitter and "Local elections 2012: delivering for the South West".


Exeter Green Party has no councillors, despite 8% of the vote in last year's local elections. A proportional voting system would have seen them get one of the 13 seats up for election in 2011. Instead, Labour took 54% of the councillors on 38% of the vote.

Their local election manifesto says that "too often a fixation on economic growth results in the loss of or damage to our valuable green spaces, deterioration in air quality, or the loss of small local businesses pushed out by large corporations".

Green priorities include:
  • raising parking charges, to tackle poor air quality and encourage alternatives to the car
  • generating more renewable energy and increasing home insulation, to cut costs and increase income
  • introducing weekly food waste collections, to increase recycling rates and generate energy and income
  • using this additional income to mitigate government cuts to local services
  • resisting planning proposals which reduce the quality of life in Exeter
  • increasing social housing and compulsory purchase powers on empty homes
  • redeveloping the Bus Station site into a new market square for local farmers and businesses
See also the Exeter Green Party website.


The UK Independence Party got 4% of the vote in last year's local elections. There is no specific manifesto for Exeter. Instead, their manifesto for the local government elections says that "councillors should put their communities, not party politics, first. Important local issues should be put to binding local referendums"

UKIP priorities include:
  • halting all cuts to front-line council services, cutting councillors’ allowances and expenses, limiting numbers of highly paid council employees, and abolishing "non-essential and ‘politically-correct’ services"
  • requiring referendums on major planning schemes like supermarkets, wind farms, large housing developments and major transport schemes; with no right of appeal for developers
  • introducing elections for county health, education and police boards
  • leaving the EU to provide more money for local services
  • cutting immigration and withholding all state benefits and free NHS services from immigrants and citizens of other countries
  • ending all funding for renewable energy, banning new wind farms, and building new power plants
  • building more prisons and increasing prison terms
  • reintroducing selection by ability into schools
See also UKIP's national website.

Other candidates

There's only one candidate who is not from the above parties: a candidate standing in Priory Ward.

Incidentally, St Loye's councillor Joan Morrish is standing down this year, at the age of 85, having served the city for 20 years. She is currently the only Liberal on the council, and no member of the Liberal Party is standing this year. The Echo also notes that her husband David Morrish was involved in local politics for 50 years both as a city and county councillor before retiring last year. Even political opponents pay tribute to the sterling public service that Joan and David Morrish have given to their community.


If you represent one of these parties locally, and you would like to clarify or correct anything here, please feel free to comment below. :-)



  1. Really good stuff, and enjoyed the politically-neutral and informative nature of the piece. Only very small correction I'd make is the comment about "co-operative model of home ownership." Under our proposals, people housed through the co-op would never OWN their home, that's the point. However they would be buying a right to occupy that home for as long as they wanted. It's not ownership, but nor is it rental. It gives a share of the equity, and an assurance of tenancy, but the home itself will always belong to the people of Exeter. Keep up the good work! :-)

  2. Hi you can also follow the Exeter Green party on twitter @exetergreens or on FB http://www.facebook.com/exetergreenpartyprofile

    many thanks