Alternative budget to protect climate, enforce planning conditions and reopen public toilets

The Progressive Group on Exeter City Council is proposing amendments to the Council’s budget which would see public toilets reopened and two new officer posts; one to ensure Exeter City Council implements a city wide plan to tackle the climate emergency and another to enforce planning conditions to protect the city’s built and natural environment.

In a first for an opposition party on Exeter City Council, the four councillors who make up the Progressive Group, will propose the budget amendments at tomorrow’s full council budget meeting. The fully costed proposals would see the measures paid for by ending free parking in the city centre on Thursday evenings, cutting free sandwiches for councillors at meetings and cancelling a consultancy budget.

Green councillor Diana Moore will propose the amendments at the full council meeting. She said:

“These sensible and fully costed amendments are all designed to protect our great city now and into the future. The climate emergency is the greatest challenge facing us over the next twenty years. The havoc caused by recent storms could become the norm unless we act fast. Exeter has pledged to play its part by becoming a carbon neutral city by 2030. Given this emergency situation, the council must have a cross party working group lead by the Portfolio Holder for Climate Change and supported by a staff member to ensure rapid action.”

Leader of the Progressive Group, Liberal Democrat councillor Kevin Mitchell, added:

“At a time when Exeter is growing rapidly it is essential that there is an officer responsible for enforcing planning conditions. It is the norm for cities the size of Exeter to have such an officer and we believe it is vital that residents in the city have someone who’s sole responsibility is to protect the city’s built and natural environment.”

The group are also calling for free toilets in shopping areas to replace free parking. They say the revenue lost by offering free parking in city centre car parks on Thursday evenings should go towards running the public toilets closed by the Labour-led council last year. An additional £2000 spent on sandwiches for council meetings and the cancellation of a consultancy line from the communications budget would help towards the cost of reopening the toilets under the Progressive Group proposals.

Councillor Michael Mitchel said:

“Our budget amendment is an opportunity to flush away distorted priorities that sees a few free parking spaces instead of free public toilets for all. An estimated £35,000 could be collected by re-introducing parking charges on Thursday evenings and benefit both visitors and residents. This together with saving thousands spent on sandwiches which are usually only half eaten could help fund the reopening of some of the city’s public toilets. Surely councillors will feel sacrificing their refreshments in favour of providing decent facilities important to the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people who are homeless is worthwhile?”

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