East Devon District Council’s leader Councillor Paul Arnott, who has been re-elected to continue in his post, has spoken out about the past year and plans for the year ahead.
This includes his plans for Cranbrook to ‘help it emerge from some tangled knots remaining from its first ten years’ and looking at how to ensure Axminster reaches its full ‘potential’ along with many more focuses for towns and areas across the district.
Another key focus will be climate change issues and the Council’s new Poverty Action Policy, among many others.
Cllr Arnott was re-elected as leader after a vote at the authority’s annual council meeting on Tuesday, May 25.
Following the meeting he said: “I have spent a quarter of a century now living in East Devon and am very fortunate to have been everything from a student in Topsham to the parent of a now grown-up family in Colyton. I love this area, and it is a great honour to have been elected by the council to serve for a second term as Leader, not something I will ever take for granted.
“I believe that the majority of people in East Devon, of all ages, are progressive, forward-thinking people, wishing for their local governance to be a national exemplar of transparency and accountability. We have put much in place to achieve this and I wish to thank the very many officers at the council who have joined us on this mission. The work goes on.”
Cllr Arnott said his entire first term of office as leader was conducted on Zoom, and the extra burden of the pandemic on councillors and officers alike, was considerable.
He added: “Now, we are hoping for more capacity to make progress with our key aims.
“The town of Cranbrook needs much attention to help it emerge from some tangled knots remaining from its first ten years. Axminster, so full of potential, will be another focus of the coming year, as Exmouth has been in the past year, and will continue to be. I stand ready to help in whatever way I can for Honiton, where the green shoots of a revitalised town council are now emerging.
“Across the district, from Seaton to Sidmouth, Ottery St Mary to the Blackdown Hills, we want to engage with and help in the culture, leisure, sport and tourism economies. East Devon has so much talent and potential in this, and we want to help this sector thrive.
“There will be financial challenges too. The government said it would cover losses from the pandemic, and unfortunately it has not, in particular leaving us with more than a million pounds in losses with LED. We also have to take on challenges ducked by previous administrations. What to do with our ageing public lavatory provision, or with our car parks?
“In Climate Change issues, we now have a new dedicated officer to help us guide this process, and all emerging policy will need to pass through this filter. We have a new Poverty Action policy, and we will be working with County to help us realise this. And finally, as an absolute priority, we need to put into action challenging ideas for more social and attainable homes for local people. I can’t wait to get on with all this over the next year with colleagues of every political colour.”