Councillors demand secretive new ‘Place Board’ be accountable to residents of Exeter

The Progressive Group of councillors on Exeter City Council are demanding that a new Board which has been asked to shape the future of the city be more open and transparent with both councillors and the people of Exeter.

The Place Board was established in 2019 by the Labour Executive of Exeter City Council to bring together “conscientious, talented people from all backgrounds who want to work in the best interests of the city.” The 24-strong Board is chaired by Sir Steve Smith, the Vice-Chancellor of Exeter University, and other members include local MPs, large businesses, national bodies and local public sector institutions.

The Progressive Group, made up of Green, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors, are demanding the Place Board make public the dates of its meetings, agendas, the attendees at each meeting, declarations of interest together with details of what was discussed and any decisions taken.

Green councillor, Diana Moore, has led the call for greater openness and transparency, challenging the Labour council leader over the lack of detail of the Place Board membership and accountability for the powerful new body. She said:

“To create change it is vital that local authorities work with other bodies. But, given the nature of the issues – including future housing developments, the Covid-19 recovery plan and action to achieve a Net Zero Carbon city by 2030 – elected Councillors and residents have a right to know its membership and what recommendations the Board is making on key issues assigned to it. 

“The board has met in secret with no minutes taken. We want to see the Place Board publish the dates of its meetings, agendas, who attends the meetings, any declarations of interest together with details of what was discussed and any decisions taken.”

Liberal Democrat councillor, Michael Mitchell, said:

“Everyone has a right to know what this Board is talking about. Their recommendations could have a major impact on the future of the city, especially in regard to housing, the type of jobs people will do in future in Exeter and tackling the climate emergency.

Independent councillor, Jemima Moore, added:

“As we hopefully move out of the Covid-19 crisis, with its serious economic consequences, and as Exeter City Council begins consideration of its new house building plan, it is vital that the Council is run in an open, transparent and accountable way to the residents of the city.”


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