Council Leader: I’m proud of Exeter’s response to the crisis in Ukraine

I am very proud of the way everyone has responded to the crisis in Ukraine.

Exeter is a city which always responds to people in need. We are a City of Sanctuary, we supported and participated in the refugee resettlement programmes for Syrian and Afghan families and have always taken in refugees, all of whom play an important role in the mix of our communities and help make Exeter the city that it is.

Some of you will know about my Ukrainian heritage, and why it has been so shocking to see the people of that country going through very difficult times.

The support that we had for the vigil in Exeter demonstrates that people want to support the people of Ukraine during this humanitarian crisis.

We will be assisting local Ukrainians to facilitate them in helping to meet, exchange experiences and make contacts.

We hope that whatever happens peace prevails, and people can return to their country and return to enjoying the life that they had.

I am sad that we are breaking civic relations with our Russian twin city of Yaroslavl. But we cannot work with the local government under these circumstances. We continue to have great admiration for the people of Russia, many of whom are running the gauntlet in supporting peace.

Ahead of our recent Budget meeting councillors heard from Tony Cox, the father of Lorraine Cox, who was tragically murdered in Exeter in September 2020.

I have listened to Tony, and I can confirm that the City Council will ensure there is appropriate coverage within the CCTV Control Room.

This is just a part of the measures that are being introduced with our partners, including the police, Community Safety Partnership and Safety of Women at Night (SWAN) scheme. We are putting more resources into the city centre on the ground in order to make it as safe is possible for women and girls, and for all visitors, to enjoy our night time economy.

The City Council has set a balanced budget for the year ahead, which resulted in a district council tax of £170.05 for a Band D property. This is an increase of £5 a year, less than 10p a week.

It’s worth remembering that only £3.27 a week for an average Band D council tax comes to the City Council, compared to £29.92 a week to Devon County Council.

We have a plan in place which continues to strive for efficiencies and savings where we can find them while protecting our excellent frontline services.

The budget allows us to focus on our key priorities for the year ahead – delivering a Net Zero Carbon City, building great neighbourhoods, creating a healthy and inclusive city, a place where people want to live, work and visit, a city of community and great quality of life.

As I’ve mentioned before, Exeter has much to look forward to over the coming year, not least of which is the opening of our new leisure centre St Sidwell’s Point.

We recently announced that St Sidwell’s Point will open in April. We have some celebratory events coming up and we can’t wait to show off these amazing facilities to everyone in Exeter.

It really is an amazing new Passivhaus leisure centre which will be well worth all the time and effort that has gone into creating it.

I hope people, and in particular families in Exeter, enjoy this marvellous facility in the city centre, which will be a major attraction beyond Exeter.

St Sidwell’s Point will be one of the best facilities of its kind anywhere is Europe, and people will be astonished by the quality of what is on offer.

Three pools, a 100-station gym, fitness studios, luxury spa, rooftop terrace and stunning views across Exeter. It is a big statement for our city centre and a massive boost for all of our residents, visitors and people who work here.

I am so proud to see it about to open its doors.

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