There are three tiers of local government with areas of responsibility in Exmouth – Devon County Council, East Devon District Council and Exmouth Town Council.
Exmouth Town Council’s offices are located in the Town Hall, St. Andrew’s Road, Exmouth and personal visitors are welcome to call into the Town Hall for help and advice on anything relating to the Town Council’s statutory responsibilities. Opening times are Monday to Thursday 9.00am to 5.00pm and 9.00am to 4.30pm on Fridays.
The Town Clerk is the Council’s senior paid officer with eight part-time staff. The Town Council supports Exmouth Town Team, Tourism Team and Arts Forum and employs a Town Management Officer and an Arts Officer with the role of supporting the economy of the town by working with businesses and promoting the town.
There are five wards each electing five Town Councillors; thus 25 town councillors in all. Councillors are volunteers for which they receive no remuneration.
Exmouth Town Council is chaired by a Mayor who is selected by his peers. The Current Mayor is Councillor Bill Nash. The Mayoral year runs from May each year. The Mayor has a very busy calendar, full of very different events, from the solemn splendour of Exmouths Remembrance Sunday event in the Strand, to opening local community fetes in high summer.
Exmouth also has a Town Crier who, apart from attending Council events, can often be found around Exmouth supporting good causes as well as welcoming visitors and spreading good cheer.
Exmouth Town Crest
In October 1997, Exmouth Town Council was granted the use of the Town’s Coat of Arms which had remained out of use since 1974 when the old Exmouth Urban District Council was abolished. As Exmouth did not have a council of its own after 1974, with most functions transferred to East Devon District Council, there was not a local authority to which the right to use the arms could pass.
With the creation of a Town Council for Exmouth in 1996 that situation was put right and the new Council applied to have the arms transferred. Such matters are dealt with by the Royal College of Arms and require an Order placed before Parliament. This was done in the Autumn of 1997, presented and approved at the Court of Buckingham Palace on 30th October and came into effect on 29th November 1997. From that date, the right to use the Coat of Arms belongs to Exmouth Town Council.
The Coat of Arms was originally granted to the Exmouth Urban District Council on 12th February 1947. It consists of three parts – the Shield, the Crest (above the shield) and the motto. Officially, the Arms are described as follows:
“Argent two anchors in saltire gules between four fish naiant azure on a chief of the last ten ancient ships in full sail five and five of the field. And for the Crest issuant from a mural crown argent and between two magnoliae grandiflorae Exmouthiensis proper a tower or thereon a flagstaff proper flying therefrom to the sinister a flag also argent charged with a cross gules with mantling azure doubled argent.”
In plain English, the Arms represent selected aspects of the town’s history. The anchors depict the association with the Royal Navy (through the Royal Marines and ships bearing the name HMS Exmouth). The fish denote the local fishing industry. The ships commemorate the ten ships and 193 seamen contributed from Exmouth to the fleet setting out for the siege of Calais under Edward III in 1346. The ‘mural coronet’ (sitting on top of the helmet) represents a local authority and the tower rising from it depicts the fort at the mouth of the Exe defended by Royalists in 1646. The banner of St. George flies from the tower.
The leaves and flowers are of the Magnolia ‘Grandiflora Exmouthiensis’, first brought to England by Sir John Colleton from America. Sir John died in 1754 and is buried at St. Michael’s Burial Ground at Withycombe Raleigh.
The motto, “Mare ditat flores decorant” means “the Sea enriches, the Flowers adorn”.
The Coat of Arms may only be fifty years old, but it represents a proud history stretching back at least six hundred and fifty years. And now, after twenty two years gathering dust, Exmouth can once again show off its Coat of Arms and all it represents.