Relevant documentation was distributed, in advance, to all that attended this meeting,
plus many others that didn’t but whom it was anticipated would have something valuable
and constructive to contribute. How wrong we were! Antipathy soon replaced anticipation.
Individual offers of support made to community representatives over many months were
discarded outside the Committee Room door. Self-preservation and maintaining their
status quo was the only focus.
Present at this meeting were -
3 Community Representatives
City Councillor Stella Brock (Chair)
City Councillor Kevin Mitchell- Portfolio Holder for Community and Leisure.
County Councillor Phil Brock
Neighbourhood Beat Manager Chris Leisk - Devon & Cornwall Constabulary - More police
Head of Exeter City Community Patrollers
Paul Faulkner - Manager of Exeter City Parks & Open Spaces
Sue Lawrence - Chair of Exeter ParksWatch (EPW) - Ex-Chair DaCCWA - EPW ‘Affiliated’
to Devon & Cornwall Community Watch Association (DaCCWA).
Gina Richards - Member EPW Committee and, allegedly, Looe Road Park Working Group
community representative. It is assumed that Gina is endowed with psychic powers.
This assumption is based upon the fact that, despite being one of several community
representatives, she never actually discusses anything with anyone in the community,
preferring to confine her conversations to her cronies within EPW and St.David’s
Neighbourhood Partnership (SDNP)
Invited but absent -
Bindu Arjoon - Assistant CEO of Exeter City Council (apologies but “on leave”).
Christine Fraser - Self-appointed ‘head-honcho’ of EPW, ex-committee member of
SDNP and now a ‘trustee’ of Exeter so called ‘Community Centre’, and whose actions
were only one of the many focus of complaints by community representatives.
More details of how Exeter Parks Watch perform can be found here. (offsite link).
The meeting begins by community representatives attempting to present the various
complaints against Exeter Parks Watch, Exeter City Council’s Parks Department and
St.David’s Neighbourhood Partnership (SDNP). Complaints specifically relating to
the actions of Christine Fraser (SDNP and EPW), Sue Lawrence, Chair of Exeter Parks
Watch and Paul Faulkner, Manager of Exeter City Council’s Parks and Open Spaces were
brushed aside as ‘not relevant to the meeting’.
Paul Faulkner had clearly decided that he would pre-empt any possible instigation
of the complaints procedure by beginning this process, againsthimself! It soon
became obvious that nobody present had any intention of dealing with the complaints
from our community. This was further reinforced when the Chair commented that, “This
meeting has been organised to discuss, “improved communications in the future between
the community and official organisations, not to go over old stuff”. This comment
was further supported by an ECC representative who commented that, “This was not
a suitable Forum to discuss these matters (the complaints)”. Both of these comments
seemed at odds with the fact that dealing with a wide variety of complaints re the
(in)actions of Christine Fraser (SDNP), Exeter Parks Watch and Paul Faulkner, was
precisely why community reps had insisted on this meeting.
It became very clear after only a few minutes that the concerns of our community
were not going to be addressed, or taken seriously, by any of the official representatives
present at this meeting.
Damage limitation? Sweeping it under the carpet? Attempted ‘intimidation’ of community
reps by a large authoritarian presence, 90+% of whom made no comment during the brief
proceedings? You decide. Accountability? Transparency? We certainly didn’t see
any of it at this meeting.
Community reps suggested that the complaints against Paul Faulkner should be withdrawn,
hoping that he would accept this as a gesture of goodwill by our community and result
in a more responsible attitude from him. This was a mistake, and Paul Faulkner continues
to provide the absolute minimum of service provision within our community. Discussions
with others has revealed that our experiences of Paul Faulkner’s lack of professionalism
is shared by others, including some of his ECC colleagues. We have received comments
including, “Paul hardly ever responds to emails”, and “I know, what is he like!”.
What indeed. He isn’t like some absent-minded eccentric old relative whose attitude
shouldn’t be questioned because, “That’s just the way he is”. As a Manager/Head
of a Council Department, whose salary is paid by the taxpayers of Exeter, it’s about
time that it wasn’t, “Just the way he is”.
The community reps ‘gave it up as a bad job’, this meeting blatantly stonewalled
our efforts and refused to address any of our complaints. A fine example of Exeter
City Council democracy in action!
Our community always welcomes any meaningful support from any individual or organisation,
but what we do not welcome are any more experiences as have been outlined throughout
The valuable (only) lesson learnt from this meeting is that we as a community will
not be so easily fobbed off in future.
Authority may, of course, wish to provide the support that was promised but rarely
delivered, time alone will tell. Whatever they do will be reported here.
Unfortunately, the realities of everyday life in Exeter bears little resemblance
to the PR bullshit that we are constantly bombarded with on a daily basis, invariably
at the publics’ expense. Based upon our own experiences, this site will illustrate
perfectly how what you want, as residents,is invariably well down the pecking order
of importance in the eyes of our supposed representatives, some public servants and
self-serving individuals and organisations.
After many months of persistent pressure from community representatives Councillor
Stella Brock finally organised a meeting at Exeter City’s Civic Centre. This meeting
was requested to address a wide variety of community concerns relating to the actions,
and lack of them, by various individuals and organisations. You may want to compare
our experiences with where you live.
The Prime Minister Comments -
“It really is a total change in the way our country is run.