You are viewing content from Radio Exe Devon. Would you like to make this your preferred location?
Listen Live

Selling off Exeter's civic centre 'could raise millions'

Wednesday, 21 February 2024 12:00

By Guy Henderson - Local Democracy Reporter @GuyAHenderson

Exeter Civic Centre

Council urged to come up with new ideas

Exeter City Council has been urged to sell the Civic Centre as a way of raising the funds it needs to stay afloat as government support ebbs away.

It has been estimated that the council could raise at least £2.5 million by selling the five-storey 1960s' building on Paris Street and renting offices from Devon County Council at County Hall instead.

The sell-off was part of a package of measures put to the Labour-run council by the Progressive Group, which is made up of opposition Green and Liberal Democrat councillors.

They also called for more investment in street cleaning, doorstep glass recycling and an investment in allotments alongside a reversal of the hike in allotment fees planned for next year.

The demands were made at a meeting of the full council at which budgets for the coming year were set and the level of council tax fixed.

Progressive Group co-leader Cllr Diana Moore (Green, St Davids) said: “The Conservative government has underfunded the local services that councils deliver for years, but the Labour administration running the city council has failed to focus on ensuring the council’s essential services are properly supported.”

Other opposition councillors agreed. “It’s obvious that we need new ideas,” said former Labour councillor Rob Hannaford (now an independent, representing St Thomas), while Cllr Peter Holland (Con, St Loyes) said planned increase in parking charges would hit the city’s retailers and unfairly target motorists.

But council leader Phil Bialyk (Lab, Exwick) said the budget showed a council performing well despite financial pressures.

“Finances remain tight,” he said. “The cost of providing our services is increasing by more than we are receiving from central government to pay for them.”

He said the council had to reduce costs by being more efficient, cutting services or raising fees. And, he said, the council anticipated an even tougher budget next year.

“Exeter is not alone in facing these challenges,” he said. “Everyone will be aware of the high profile cases of other councils in trouble, but due to good stewardship this is not a position Exeter finds itself in.

“Exeter continues to be a successful and prosperous city. It is performing well, and there is much to look forward to in the years ahead.”

Having voted against the Progressive group’s amendments, the Labour-controlled council voted overwhelmingly in favour of the budget proposed by Cllr Bialyk.

It means an average Band D property in Exeter will pay the city council £180.37 in council tax, an increase of £5.24. On top of that, households pay just over £1,700 to Devon County Council, £275 for police services and £100 for the fire service.

“Setting a budget is all about priorities and making choices,” said Cllr Bialyk. “We end up not pleasing everybody, but we are still here.”

More from Local News

Listen Live
On Air Now Radio Exe - Non Stop Playing Lola's Theme Shapeshifters