Summer is a time for communities to join together and celebrate our city

On Thursday we will celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a big community street party in Exeter.

Community groups from around the city will be at Cathedral Green and there will be tables and chairs for people to sit down and have something to eat in the High Street. Communities have also taken the initiative and organised local events across the city throughout the weekend, and it is going to be a great occasion.

It is a chance for people to come together and enjoy the bank holiday celebrations. Many people have had a tough time over the last couple of years, I think this is a great opportunity for communities to come together and celebrate and I’m looking forward to it.

I want to wish the Exeter Chiefs Women’s rugby team every success when they face Saracens in their first Premier 15s final on Friday 3 June at Worcester. If they win it will be a double success – they’ve already had a great season after winning the Premier Cup Trophy against Harlequins at Sandy Park in April.

Sport is very important to this city and I am delighted with the success that all of our teams have enjoyed over recent years – long may it continue.

Since my last column we have released detailed of my new cabinet for the coming year. It has a different look to it, with different responsibilities for nearly all Portfolio Holders, as we step up and meet the challenges that are now before us. I know full well that with the youth and enthusiasm they bring we will be able to deliver for Exeter.

As we revealed recently, the Council has now taken ownership of the Guildhall Shopping Centre. This is an important destination in the city centre, much loved by all those who use it, and it is a very important site. This is a great opportunity and we want to invest in it. We want to maintain and improve its current use. In the future, it could come forward for some residential use, and when that happens we want it under the control of the Council.

We want a thriving city centre for people to enjoy, with great shops and restaurants together with urban and sustainable living to support the vibrancy and sustainability of our fantastic city centre.

The city centre is crucially important to Exeter. Ours has performed better than most over recent years because of the work we have done to protect and enhance it.

It continues to be a major attraction for both residents and visitors from all over the country and beyond. I’m delighted that the Underground Passages, which is a key attraction, will reopen on Thursday 9 June. Our Red Coat Tours also restarted recently and are a brilliant free facility for anyone wanting to find out more about the history of our great city.

We recently opened St Sidwell’s Point and the new Exeter Bus Station, which are a major boost to the city centre.

National Express and the long distance coaches will relocate from Sidwell Street to Bampfylde Street, next to the new Exeter Bus Station, on July 1. Sidwell Street has thrived over recent years and is an increasingly vital part of the city centre, with a wide range of independent cafes and shops adding a real cultural value to our city.

We are now looking forward to progressing plans for the rest of the bus station site, which will be known as CityPoint. We are not stopping with our ambitious plans for Exeter and continue to look forward and plan for the future.

The RAMM have arranged some consultation days for people to give their views on how the city should develop in the years ahead, and major consultation is being prepared over the Exeter Plan – the city’s Local Plan – to make sure everyone has a say and feels part of the plans for how Exeter should look in the decades to come.

Finally I’d like to mention Edwards Court, our Extra Care facility off Topsham Road. This is really fantastic facility to help residents live independently, with amazing communal facilities. It is the first Passivhaus care facility of its kind anywhere in the country, with 53 apartments, which we will shortly be in a position to start letting. Of course the building is named after our former Council Leader, my good friend Pete Edwards, and I couldn’t be more pleased. 

So with summer here at last there’s plenty to look forward to in Exeter as always. Let’s hope it’s a really great summer, and people can come together and celebrate all of the great things about living in Exeter.

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