Tributes paid to former Exeter City Council leader Pete Edwards

Tributes have been paid to former Exeter City Council leader Pete Edwards who has died in hospital following a short illness.

Mr Edwards, who served as a councillor for 30 years, has been remembered as a ‘humble’ man with ‘extraordinary insight’ who leaves ‘such a strong legacy’.

He represented the then-Barton ward from 1984 to 1988 and then Mincinglake and Whipton from 1995 to 2019.

The former bus driver was was leader of the council from 2011 until his retirement in 2019.

He previously served as lead councillor for housing as well as environmental health and leisure.

Mr Edwards’ tenure as leader oversaw the much-needed refurbishment of the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in 2011 and he was at the helm when plans to redevelop the old bus station were revealed.

He was responsible for many of the city’s successes, including bringing the 2015 Rugby World Cup to Exeter and the Radio One Big Weekend in 2017.

Current city council leader Phil Bialyk said Mr Edwards would be sorely missed, adding: “I knew Pete for nearly 50 years and it is a privilege to call him my friend.

“You can see the impact that he had in the city and he leaves such a strong legacy.

“Pete was humble. Not even his family really saw the breadth of what he was delivering for the city.

“He spent his leadership genuinely looking out for the interests of the people of Exeter – many of which he would never meet.”

Karime Hassan, chief executive and growth director of the council said: “Pete was known for his sound judgement.

“He had this ability to ‘cut through the crap’ and get to the heart of an issue.

“I spent a lot of time over my career with Pete. Every time he brought the matter back to his knowledge of Exeter, his knowledge of the people of Exeter, and the real-life issues they face.

“His insight was extraordinary and he also wouldn’t shy away from a fight if he knew it was the right thing to do.”

Mr Edwards introduced the Living Wage at the council and was key in bringing big names such as John Lewis and Ikea to the city.

He played his part in helping deliver thousands of new homes, many of them ‘affordable’ in the city, and was instrumental in pushing for Exeter to become a unitary authority.

Mr Edwards invested heavily in new flood defences and worked hard to bring on board Exeter City Futures to make the city energy independent and free of congestion.

He also had a hand in driving up Exeter’s recycling rates and making the city cleaner and greener.

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