North Devon candidates make their pitch as election day nears

PM Rishi Sunak in Devon
-Credit: (Image: DevonLive)

Does the country need stability or change? Polls can be contradictory and only you, the voters, have control over which party is elected on 4 July to run the country by deciding where to place your X.

With just over a week to go until the general election, the Local Democracy Reporting Service asked the candidates in North Devon to say why they think they would make a good MP and what their main priorities will be if elected.

The area has been Conservative since 2015. Prior to that it was Liberal Democrat for 13 years. Most polls currently predict a Lib Dem win.

STEVE COTTEN (Independent)

People who visit my pub in Yarde Down tell me "the country has never been in such a mess". I agree. None of the parties can be trusted.

Many say they won't vote, or they wish they could vote for None Of The Above (NOTA). If you feel like this, vote for me, an independent, and send all the parties the same message: you are not fit to run a car park, let alone a country.

I would work as a direct democracy representative, taking my instructions from you. Direct voting is cheap, secure and easy to adopt. It stops politicians ignoring you. This kind of system works well in Switzerland, where they must laugh at the UK. The only thing we lead the world in is potholes.

The North Devon manifesto on, is based on ideas from normal voters (like you) who the parties ignore: a delivery tax on online shopping to spend on town centres, a one per cent tax on supermarket alcohol to subsidise the local pubs we are losing, a public transport rebate for North Devon to pay for private transport, and most of all, affordable housing for local people, who do vital work in care, health, hospitality, retail and trades on scandalously low pay.

However we vote in Devon, Labour will take power, so why hop from the Conservative to Lib Dems, or even Reform? If you are fed up with party politics and you think the system is broken, vote for me instead.


I'm honoured to stand as a Labour candidate in this election. It's clear that the people of North Devon are ready for change after 14 years of Tory chaos.

I've had a long career in communications, policy, and campaigning, working largely with charities and not-for-profit organisations. I am also a published author and have written three novels.

My key priorities for North Devon are:

Helping families hit by the cost-of-living crisis, worsened by Tory mini-budget bungling. Labour will deliver economic stability with tough spending rules and grow our economy, making life more affordable and creating good jobs with a real living wage.

Establishing genuinely affordable homes for people in North Devon. Labour will deliver the biggest boost to affordable housing in a generation, and drive investment in social and family housing with proper infrastructure.

Delivering clean power via Great British Energy, a publicly-owned company that will lower bills, create jobs and help businesses to grow in North Devon, while boosting our energy independence.

Fixing the neglected NHS by delivering more NHS dentist, hospital and doctor appointments in North Devon.

Giving our children the best start in life, by supporting a Labour government that will recruit 6,500 new teachers and deliver 100,000 new nursery places.

If elected as your MP, I look forward to meeting constituents and responding to their individual concerns, and view constituents' casework as one of the most important parts of the job.


At the general election, the people of North Devon have a simple choice. Do they vote for change or do they vote for more of the same? Change is long overdue, but that needn't mean choosing from the same old stagnant pool of career politicians and party place men and women.

There is little difference between Labour and Conservative any longer. They have finally, and inevitably, met in the centre which is precisely where they want to be. Indeed, Sir Keir Starmer's only appeal to Conservatives, from the platform at the Labour party conference, was vote for us because we won't be quite as ineffectual as them. Not much of a choice is it?

Reform will do what it says on the tin. It means real change. Common sense. It means saving Britain from wokeism, out of control spending, swingeing taxation, Net Zero madness, uncontrolled mass immigration, both legal and illegal, the interfering European Court of Human Rights and the cosy consensus on all of this which we see at Westminster today and which has cost us the real Brexit the majority of people voted for in this constituency

I have made my home in North Devon with my wife of 52 years, a family man who knows what it's like raise two children, both now in their forties. I've been campaigning for over a year now, talking to people of North Devon on their doorsteps as well as involving myself in the local community from where I am seeing the challenges and the issues that concern them.

North Devon needs a bold representative who is returned to parliament to get results, who is there to protect our rural and agricultural areas from rampant over-development? People are telling me that they have been let-down and have little confidence in any of the main parties. There is an alternative.

If you really want a determined representative who believes in getting results, then put your cross next to Reform UK on polling day.

CAS LAY (Green)

I am 20 years old and new to politics. I am the youngest North Devon candidate (by about 30 years) in the general election. As a bit of a joke, I ran for the district council elections last year. I didn't win, but I was blown away by all the support I got. They liked that someone young, someone local, someone who wasn't really like a politician, was having a go.

I don't have the experience that the other North Devon MP candidates have, but I see that as an advantage. People say that young people aren't interested in politics and they are right. Trust has gone out the window. So, I hope showing that anyone can get into politics - like me - it might influence other people to follow.

The country is a mess and North Devon has its own issues. An issue I feel strongly about is the lack of homes that local people can afford and the negative effect it has on communities. I love North Devon, I grew up here, but will me and my friends ever afford to live here? House prices are 14 times the median income.

So I can't understand the lack of urgency when there's a project like my local Braunton Community Land Trust that isn't getting the support it needs to build cheap village owned rental houses. If I became MP, looking at North Devon's housing crisis would be top of the list.

IAN ROOME (Liberal Democrat)

I love this area and feel lucky to have brought up my family here after being posted to Chivenor by the RAF in 1989.

I'm a Yorkshireman who has made Barnstaple my home for the last 35 years, during which time I've served my community through work, local politics and fundraising.

I came here by chance but I've stayed here by choice.

I'm hoping to represent the people of North Devon in Westminster and to make their voices heard. Having worked in healthcare and housing, I understand the pressures that people face.

My number one priority is fixing the broken parts of our NHS. The NHS has been there at all the important times in my life. From the birth of my daughters to the death of my brother, NHS staff have always been there to help me through.

We will give everyone the right to see a GP within seven days, or within 24 hours if they urgently need to, with 8,000 more GPs to deliver on it.

The other key issue for me is the sewage being pumped into the area's rivers and coast, this has to stop.

We can end the sewage scandal by transforming water companies into public benefit companies, banning bonuses for water bosses until discharges and leaks end, and replacing Ofwat with a tough new regulator with new powers to prevent sewage dumps.

My fight is not against other parties. My fight is for North Devon. If privileged enough to serve I promise to be North Devon's voice in Westminster, not Westminster's voice in North Devon.

SELAINE SAXBY (Conservative)

Since 2019 when you elected me, I worked tirelessly to deliver for North Devon. Fifty four per cent of homes now have gigabit broadband, up from three per cent in 2019.

I helped secure millions in investment across North Devon in the Future High Street Fund and for the Ilfracombe Watersports Centre.

Two new wards at North Devon Hospital and work now starting on the first phase of the redevelopment.

I was an environmentalist before I was a Conservative. I have helped secure wins in how our bathing waters are tested, increased hedgerow regulation, highly protected marine areas designated into English waters, and banning numerous single use plastics.

Recently having joined the environment, food and rural affairs select committee, I am keen to get back to work there, supporting our farmers and improving our food security, alongside championing our precious environment.

My team and I have dealt with over 38,000 pieces of casework, solving many issues for many people which involved writing over 10,000 letters and having logged over 65,000 emails.

My puppy smuggling bill almost made it into law. If elected, I will of course fight to take this bill forward to become law.

Yes, mistakes have been made nationally, and by me locally; we are all human, but I hope you will put your trust in me again on July 4 to continue the work I have started to make North Devon an even better place to live, work, bring up a family.