Tory majority cut
The Conservatives have retained control of Devon County Council, but with a reduced majority.
Previously the Conservatives held 41 of the 60 seats, but they only held onto 39 following the conclusion of the counting on Saturday.
The Liberal Democrats gained three seats to become the official opposition on nine, while Labour gained one seat in Exeter.
The Green Party gained a seat in Broadclyst, as well as holding on to Totnes and Dartington, to return two councillors, while three Independents were elected (in Fremington Rural, Otter Valley and Newton Abbot South).
The Conservatives remain in control of the council, although their majority is slightly down.
Cllr John Hart, leader of the council, who retained his Bickleigh and Wembury seat, said: “I’m very grateful to everyone who voted – no matter which party they chose – in difficult circumstances. “We shall continue to govern in Devon for the benefit of the county as a whole and for all our residents."
Cllr Sara Randall Johnson, who retained her Broadclyst seat on Saturday added: “It is very clear that the Conservatives and Team Devon have been returned to the authority. I will be working for the people and making sure that we look after them. That is my priority and has always been so,” with her also paying tribute to some of the younger Conservative candidates who stood but didn’t win.
It was two days of little change, with only a handful of seats changing hands, including the Conservatives regaining Bideford West and Hartland from a former-Conservative-turned-Independent, while Phil Bullivant took Newton Abbot North from the Liberal Democrats, and Marcus Hartnell gained Seaton and Colyton from the East Devon Alliance.
The Liberal Democrats took Barnstaple South, South Brent and Yealmpton, Dawlish and Teignmouth from the Tories, to leave them on nine seats, although Newton Says No candidate Janet Bradford took the Newton Abbot South seat from them, to leave them as the official opposition on the council again.
Cllr Alan Connett, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “I am delighted that we gave put on three seats but we do have a job of work to do holding the Conservatives to account. It is a tired administration at County Ahll and won’t be much change, so our job will be to promote to the people of Devon the things that are important, fixing the roads, mending children’s services, the economy, how we recover from Covid. What I want is a willingness from the Conservatives to work together on mending Devon’s economy."
On a difficult day for Labour nationally, the party held onto all seven seats in Exeter, but failed to make any gains in the city or elsewhere.
Group leader Cllr Rob Hannaford said: “We will be a constructive opposition, if they are doing the right thing, we will back it, but if it needs to change, we will raise issues and lobby and get things done.”
The most votes went to Jess Bailey, an Independent who took the Otter Valley seat with more than 3,000 votes, taking over from Claire Wright.
Cllr Bailey said: “I am absolutely thrilled and stunned and so grateful for all who voted for me. I am absolutely delighted and I want to say thank you to all those who voted for me. One of priorities will be the state of the roads, road safety, patchy broadband, Tipton St John school, and I am absolutely thrilled.”
Cllr Henry Gent, the Green party councillor who won the Broadclyst seat from a Conservative, added: “Thank you to the votes here how have realised that if you want Green, you must vote Green. As a Green I care for this patch of earth, the local people, and all our posterity."