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The 2017 East Devon Parliamentary Election Result

The East Devon area has had a Conservative MP for over 150 years, although increasingly that is being challenged.

In 2017, the turnout in East Devon was 73.4%

I won 21,270 votes, which is more than twice the cumulative votes of all the other candidates (9,806) making me the only credible alternative to a Conservative MP in East Devon.

In 2019, Independent councillors took control of East Devon District Council for the first time in its 45 year history. Between 1974 and 2019 the Conservatives had a large majority.

Nationally, large political parties are faltering and fracturing and failing to represent people’s views. Increasingly, people are turning to Independent alternatives.

East Devon Election 2017

What does Independent mean?

I am a true Independent in that I am not part of a political party and never have been. My campaign team, leaflet distributors and campaigners are volunteers. We have raised money in past elections through hundreds of donations from kind local people.

I am an Independent because it gives me the ability to represent people without being required to follow a party line. Every MP has the right to vote in the Commons but are often obliged to vote against their own beliefs in order to support their party.

I would always be able to form my own views and would do my best to represent East Devon. In a hung Parliament in particular, every vote counts.

I write my own manifestos which are based on the views of East Devon people, following a survey in 2014 and an update in 2019.

Around 500 people responded to each survey and I will publish the latest version of my manifesto when the next general election is announced.

The voice of East Devon in Westminster, not the voice of Westminster in East Devon.

About my role as a Devon County Councillor

I was elected to Devon County Council in May 2013, with 2970 votes (a 74 per cent share). I replaced former Independent county councillor, Roger Giles, in 2013, who has encouraged me every step of the way and is still part of my campaign team.

I was re-elected in 2017 to Otter Valley Ward, with 3638 votes (a 75 per cent share).

I am a member of the Health and Adult Care Scrutiny Committee and protecting our precious NHS services, including our community hospitals has been a big focus of my time on this committee.   I have chaired a review into paid care in people’s homes, following hundreds of community hospital bed closures. It found that services were very stretched, especially care of the dying.

You can read the full report here

I will chair a review into how unpaid carers are faring in the summer of 2019, after conducting some research which concerned me about how people are managing to care for others, while still making ends meet.

I have been involved in a wide range of work and campaigns over the years and have lodged many motions, mostly related to the NHS and nature, largely gaining the support of the council.

One big success of mine has been Devon County Council’s wildflower verge policy, which was launched in May 2019, following my pilot of three verges in my ward in 2013.  With a continuing catastrophic decline in insects, it is more vital than ever that the use of pesticides are drastically limited and we all encourage pollinator friendly plants in our gardens.

So while my two enduring passions are nature and the NHS. I am also a very vocal critic of the government’s austerity agenda, which has crippled local councils and is negatively affecting local people’s lives as a result. In Devon County Council alone, over £100m has been cut by central government. My view is that it is irresponsible and unnecessary to play with people’s lives in this way. The people who are most affected are always those who find it hardest to stand up for themselves, such as our elderly, disabled and children and young people.

What I stand for

I believe that government prioritise caring for its people (particularly the elderly, disabled, children and teenagers), protecting wildlife and our environment from harm and supporting local small businesses.

Government should be open, transparent, inclusive and work for the benefit of the people it serves.

Instead, I mostly observe a government obsessed with clinging onto power, whatever the cost and ministers who are more concerned with currying favour with party donors than actually representing people’s views, or being held accountable for their often dubious actions and words.

Having integrity isn’t difficult, it just requires honesty and consideration of whose interests you are acting in.

NHS

Years of cuts have been very damaging to our health services. East Devon has a high percentage of people who rely on the NHS and we need to ensure that services are efficiently run but also appropriately funded. That means campaigning for improved health and social services while opposing cuts to the services we already have.

Education

Austerity has hit our schools hard. As well as being almost at the bottom of the funding table nationally, this government has starved schools of funding, which has meant fewer teachers, fewer subjects at A Level and bigger class sizes. In 2019 Exmouth Community College actually asked parents to help out with funding, it was struggling so badly.  Ministers should be ashamed that they could be jeopardising the education of our children.

Environment

In November 2013 the Woodland Trust asked me to be its Tree Champion for Devon, which is a huge honour.  Since being Woodland Trust Tree Champion I have successfully persuaded Devon County Council to carry out more tree planting on its land, helped by the Woodland Trust. It is absolutely vital to protect our trees as we have very little woodland cover here in the UK compared with Europe.  Trees provide oxygen and limit carbon in the atmosphere. They reduce air pollution, provide food and shelter for wildlife, minimise erosion and maintain healthy soil, increase rainfall, and absorb sunlight as energy. Simply, trees are an essential component of life on Earth.

Many wildlife species such as hedgehogs, insects and birds have dramatically declined. Wildflower meadows have declined by a massive 97 % in recent times. Without the flowers, insects cannot thrive and the natural cycle is disrupted.

Housing

East Devon is seeing a very large amount of development to the detriment to our environment. We live in a beautiful area and we must protect that. We need more homes especially for younger and less well-off local people – truly affordable homes – but the scale of development that we are now seeing is unprecedented and is destroying our countryside, as well as compromising infrastructure, such as our schools, roads and health services.

Only around 40 per of our land is deemed suitable for growing crops on. The rest is grazing or woodland. Unfortunately, the government’s policies on not using high quality crop growing land for development are not strong enough and it is frequently built on.  This is a calamity for future food production security.

East Devon

The East Devon constituency now runs from Exmouth to St Loyes in Exeter, including Topsham, Cranbrook and Ottery St Mary.

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June 2019

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