Agenda and minutes

Strategic Scrutiny Committee - Thursday 17th March 2022 5.30 pm

Venue: Guildhall, High Street, Exeter

Contact: Sharon Sissons, Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 01392 265115 or email

Note: This meeting is open to the public and those addressing the Committee under the public speaking provisions, but because of current social distancing restrictions brought about by the Corona Virus outbreak, any members of the public wishing to attend the meeting should contact the Democratic Services Team in advance, as there is limited capacity for public attendance. Priority will be given to those addressing the Committee under the public speaking provisions 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 232 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the Strategic Scrutiny Committee held on 18 November 2021.




The minutes of the meeting held on 18 November 2021 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct.



Declaration of Interest

Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item.  Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.



No declarations of pecuniary interest were made.


Questions from the Public Under Standing Order 19

Details of questions should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support via the email by 10.00am at least three working days prior to the meeting. For this meeting any questions must be submitted by 10.00am on Monday 14th March 2021.


For details about how to speak at Committee, please click the following link -




No questions from members of the public were received.


Questions from Members of the Council Under Standing Order 20

To receive questions from Members of the Council to the relevant Portfolio Holders for this Scrutiny Committee. The Portfolio Holders reporting to this Scrutiny Committee are:-


Councillor Bialyk -       Leader

Councillor Sutton -      Portfolio Holder for Net Zero Exeter 2030

Councillor Foale -       Portfolio Holder for Transformation and Environment

Councillor Morse -      Portfolio Holder for City Development

Councillor Wood -       Portfolio Holder for Leisure & Physical Activity


Advance questions from Members relating to the Portfolio Holders above should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support.



In accordance with Standing Order 20, the following questions were submitted by Councillor Jobson in relation to the Board of Exeter City Futures Community Interest Company (ECFCIC). The Chief Executive & Growth Director Karime Hassan answered the questions as a representative of the Board of Exeter City Futures and the responses are included in italics below -


The Board of Exeter City Futures CIC 

1.   Has there been a Board Meeting of Exeter City Futures (either in person or remote) between 24 November 2020 and 2 January 2022? If so, when and why have the Minutes not been published? 


Two meetings have been held on 13 December 2021 and 3 March 2022. For the most part of the period of the Covid pandemic they did not have Board meetings.

The minutes were published and on the Exeter City Futures web site and the site map would be made easier to navigate. Members of the Exeter City Futures team could also supply any necessary copies on request.


2.   If not has there been a Board Meeting of Exeter City Futures since 2 January 2022? If so, when was it held and when will the Minutes be published? 


There had been a Board meeting and the minutes for the Board meeting were published.


3.   Has a new Director been appointed to represent Devon County Council (DCC)? 


It was anticipated that Dave Black, the Head of Transport at Devon County Council who had attended the Board meeting on 13 December 2021 would have become the new Director of ECF to replace Jamie Hulland. Companies House had not been informed about the change yet but the records would be updated as soon as possible. He understood that Mr Black was not now taking up that place but he was optimistic that a replacement Board member would be appointed soon.  He added that Lisa Roberts, the Vice Chancellor of Exeter University had joined the Board as a Director and that was a boost and indication of support from one of the city’s main institutions to help deliver the Net Zero agenda. The University, had brought forward their target date for their strategy for Net Zero 2035 to 2030 to coincide with that of the city.


A Member updated Members and stated that it was a matter of public record that Mr Black was due to retire from the County Council shortly.


4.   If so, when were they appointed and has the paperwork gone to Companies House? 

Once the appointment was made to the Board, the information would be sent to Companies House to update their records.


5.   If not, is DCC planning on making a new appointment? 

The appointment would be made as soon as possible following discussions.


Councillor Jobson agreed that it was important that members of the public could access such information such as the Board minutes easily and she welcomed the responses.


Finances (All Information in the Questions is in the Public Domain) 


1.   Exeter City Futures Community Interest Company (CFCIC) was allocated  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Portfolio Holder Update


Councillor Foale – Portfolio Holder for Transformation and Environment will provide an update covering the city’s Growth after Covid.


There have been a number of challenges faced by the city over the past two years, predominantly those impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions, and the subsequent knock-on impact on our businesses.


The Service Lead for Net Zero & Business will also be in attendance and offer relevant information, data and an overview of the current situation in relation to key areas of Exeter’s economy, and the response by the City Council and its partners to support the city.



Councillor Foale, Portfolio Holder Transformation & Environment provided an introduction and update on areas within his Portfolio having met with the Directors of Finance, Transformation and Net Zero and the Service Lead - Environmental Health and Community Safety. He invited the Service Lead – Net Zero & Business to present some detail on the work being undertaken to help the city’s economy recover from the Covid pandemic.


The Service Lead – Net Zero & Business referred to the challenges faced by the city over the past two years, predominantly on those impacted by the Covid-19 restrictions, and impact on businesses. A briefing note was circulated providing relevant information, data and an overview of the current situation in relation to key areas of Exeter’s economy, as well as setting out those challenges, and the responses that have been provided by the City Council and its partners.


The key areas were highlighted as –


·         Retail Trade:  a recent Centre for Cities report provided insights and comparisons of Exeter’s city centre to other national city centres, citing Exeter with the 8th lowest shop vacancy rate at 12.9% (June 2021). During the pandemic, neighbourhood shopping areas had fared more favourably than the High Street. The biggest retail casualty in Exeter had been in fashion retail.  Exeter was identified as having the 12th highest share of spending online between 2019 and 2021, an area where spending has bounced back.

·         Business openings and closures: there had been over 47 shop closures, with these mainly being national high street chains.  In comparison, 59 businesses have opened in the city, the majority being independent shops using locally sourced goods.  Demand for vacant units in the city centre remained positive, with units owned by the City Council being let very quickly, whilst some larger units demanding high rents remained vacant.

·         City centre parking:  Exeter city car parks had been effected during the pandemic with many people working from home. Ticket sales remain 16% down on pre pandemic levels, which continued to have an impact on income levels of the service managing car parks. Work continues to be undertaken by InExeter and Visit Exeter to attract people into the city centre.

·         City Centre Footfall: this has moved in line with national restrictions being imposed and lifted with footfall decreasing by 5.3%, lower than the south west figure of 18.6% and the national figure of 22%.  Exeter was awarded Government funding through the Reopening High Street Safely Fund and the Welcome Back Fund to provide a focus to attract people back into the city. The Net Zero and Business team were about to embark on a refresh of the contents and recommendations of the City Centre Strategy in the light of the challenges to the labour market and workforce requirements of businesses in the city.  The opening of St Sidwell’s Point was keenly awaited to continue to drive up footfall.

·         Labour Market: the impact of the end of the national furlough scheme has not been felt as anticipated, but was one of the reasons  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Forward Plan of Business

Please see for noting a link to the schedule of future business proposed for the Council which can be viewed on the Council’s web site -


Should Members wish to raise issues in respect of future business please notify Sharon Sissons in advance of the meeting.




Members noted the Forward Plan.