Time to work together for the best interests of constituents

Eileen Wragg writes in the Exmouth Journal  and recalls being told many years ago: “It’s going to take a long time to turn this ship around”         

Although the administration of EDDC changed last May, to the Democratic Alliance of East Devon Alliance, Liberal Democrat’s, Greens and some Independents, the only time that the council has had a physical meeting was on May 25 this year when the AGM was held at Westpoint, due to the social distancing, as required under the Covid rules.

It was with pleasure and pride that I nominated Cllr Paul Arnott to be the leader for the coming year, which was seconded by a Green, Cllr Oily Davey. I am delighted that the nomination succeeded by 29 votes to 21, with eight abstentions.

This past year has been a uniquely challenging one due to the pandemic, and all members and officers have had to adapt to new systems and ways of working.

The council has also had to continue with projects which had been started by previous administrations, notably Queen’s Drive Exmouth, Cranbrook and those associated with climate change, such as introducing electric vehicles to our fleet, and charging points in our car parks.

Bold decisions have also been made, such as the withdrawal from the Greater Exeter Strategic Plan (GESP), and consent to the Lower Otter Restoration Project, which has received national accolades. Under Cllr Arnott’s leadership, huge strides forward have been made. With his readiness to listen and engage, relationships with officers and members have improved. His natural abilities and good humour have helped steer our council through some choppy waters, with his hands firmly at the helm.

Many years ago, someone said to me ‘It’s going to take a long time to turn this ship around’. Well that is finally happening, we are now a forward thinking council, and have already agreed to engage a climate change officer, and a mental health officer. Both are important appointments, the latter having been brought into sharp focus, due to significant mental health issues caused by Covid.

I trust that members of the council will be able to put aside any political differences and work together for our constituents and in the best interests of all and our outstanding environment. We can now look forward to the next 12 months knowing that we are being led by a caring council leader who does just that, and who leads by example.