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Tory leader feels 'positive' ahead elections

Monday, 9 January 2023 06:00

By Rob Kershaw, local democracy reporter

East Devon Cllr Philip Skinner (Conservative, Tale Vale)

No overall majority in East Devon

The leader of the Conservatives in East Devon is feeling positive ahead of local elections in May.

The 2019 elections in East Devon dealt a blow to the party which, having won 35 seats in 2011, added another to that tally in the next full poll four years later.

However, the Tories came out of the elections four years ago with just 19 seats, and after the Liberal Democrats, the East Devon Alliance, the Green Party, and three Independents joined forces to form the Democratic Alliance, the Conservatives lost control of the council they had led since the district was  created.

Right now, though, East Devon District Council has no overall majority, and Conservative leader Cllr Paul Skinner (Conservative, Tale Vale) ) believes the time for change has come.

“It’s difficult from a Westminster perspective [that the Tories will do well],” he said. “But as far as [local] Conservatives, I think the true values that people sit within are at the core of the Conservative party.

“I think people believe, in a general sense, in a capitalist state, but what we want is a capitalist state that’s also got responsibility in ensuring people are able to afford and pay for services, and that’s what we want.

“I think Rishi Sunak, from a perspective of central government, is doing a fantastic job. And I happen to think that, in many aspects, East Devon District Council are not doing a very good job.

“I think there’s a change of administration required at East Devon District Council, and I’m very optimistic going forward.

“We’ve nearly fulfilled most of our places now for our seats, so there’s many people wanting to stand as Conservatives, and no one’s shying away from that – why would we?

“We believe in what we believe in, and we go from there. As leader of the Conservative boot, I’m very optimistic in the teams we’ve got going forward. That optimism is shown by many candidates coming forward and by existing councillors.”

Cllr Skinner’s is confident of taking back overall control of East Devon.

“Absolutely, and I firmly believe that,” he said.  “That’s not just a limp comment, I firmly believe that. We are tainted I’m afraid to say with what central government does, because people see that as a concern when you mention Conservatives on the doorstep; people immediately revert to central government.

“There are lots of people who know local cabinets, and who know that we do things for the area which we live in. We’re very passionate about delivering for East Devon.”

Other parties have been asked for their views about the forthcoming elections.

The Democratic Alliance said that it was “too soon” to make any predictions, while Labour said they did not want to speculate, but will be “fighting to win.”

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