I received correspondence from a number of constituents and local estate agents back in the early autumn regarding serious delays to Exeter City Council's administration of land searches which threatened to jeopardise house moves for those both buying and selling. I wrote to Exeter City Council who were fully aware of the problem, made it clear that the delays were unacceptable and apologised to those affected.
The council had identified the problem of staff shortages despite an increase in land search requests which had resulted in a backlog of unprocessed searches. At its peak in July, the backlog hit 475 with a waiting time of 45 days per search - an alarming delay and potentially damaging for our local economy.
I am pleased that, while acknowledging there could be no quick fix, Exeter City Council took swift action to address the problem by training and deploying additional staff. This has ensured that steady progress has been made with 75% of the backlog now having been tackled, bringing the outstanding searches down to 75 by the end of last week and continuing to fall. The turnaround time for a search is now less than a week and local confidence is being restored.
I congratulate and thank everyone in the council's land search team for their hard work and look forward to things returning to normal very shortly.