The Progressive Group of councillors on Exeter City Council - which includes Green councillor Diana Moore - have refused to back Labour’s budget for the coming year. While the Conservatives gave their backing, the Progssive Group challenged the Labour-led council on its ‘direction of travel.’
Cllr Kevin Mitchell, leader of the Progressive Group, said:
"This has been an extraordinary year with so much change. At this important point for our city, we believe the recovery must fully involve all the communities within the city and the budget must reflect this. The top-down approach for Labour’s development schemes is not a direction of travel that we can ever support. By fully involving neighbourhoods our city will recover far stronger. Our communities views must be given more weight in determining Exeter's future than that of the same old names from the same old favoured organisations."
Cllr Diana Moore, Green Party councillor, challenged Labour over axing a £50,000 budget for progressing Exeter's Net Zero 2030 plan. She said:
"While the COVID pandemic has been a necessary priority over the last year, the climate & ecological emergencies have not gone away; they continue unabated. We must see the Net Zero 2030 plans translate into action as a matter of urgency and that requires funding to help deliver low carbon jobs and services. We also need an annual carbon budget that aligns with the financial budget to show how we are working towards net zero carbon by 2030. Above all we need to make sure we involve communities on the journey to a net zero carbon future."
Independent councillor, Jemima Moore, said:
"We are very grateful for the work of Council staff and community organisations in response to the pandemic. We now need to properly involve residents in tackling the challenges we face, including the economic impact of the pandemic, growing inequality in the city, as well as the climate and nature crises."
Unlike Labour, the Progressive Group do not operate a 'whipping' system and are free to vote in the interests of their wards and the city - all four councillors abstained. Cllr Mike Mitchell, Liberal Democrat councillor, concluded:
"Labour are clearly determined to plough ahead regardless of reasonable questioning and challenge, and it was clear none of us could support their approach."