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Devon County Council candidates tell us about themselves

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Devon County Council candidates tell us about themselves

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You can elect your Devon County Councillor in May, so we decided to find out more about who was standing and why. 

Some people may think that voting in the local elections isn't as important as voting in the General Elections, but you could argue that the people we elect to represent us at the county and district levels will actually have more of an impact on our day-to-day lives than any of our MPs or representatives in Westminster do.

Devon County Council has overall responsibility for services including social care, childcare and child protection, transport and roads, emergency planning, libraries, Trading Standards, recycling centres and waste disposal.

With that in mind, we asked the candidates for information about themselves, so we can make an informed decision. Each division has the names of the parishes it covers, followed by the candidates standing in the election to be the next Devon County Councillor for that area. The incumbent is the current county councillor for that division. 

The local elections take place in two weeks time, on Thursday, May 6. Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm. You don't need your poll card to vote. You must vote at your assigned polling station (find yours here). In England, Wales and Scotland, you don't need any form of ID. 


Bickleigh and Wembury

(Bickleigh, Brixton, Cornwood, Harford, Shaugh Prior, Sparkwell and Wembury)


John Hart is the incumbent standing for the Conservative Party

John Hart

He said: “I have proudly represented Bickleigh and Wembury since 2005 and I have led Devon County Council since 2009.

“I have done my very best to combine my responsibilities as leader with my duties to you. Over the last 12 months I have been helping coordinate the Devon response to the Covid-19 virus.

“Over the last four years, I have been instrumental in ensuring the county council develops plans to by-pass the centre of Lee Mill with a new road linking the A38 with Tesco and the industrial estate.

“I have helped Harford to get full fibre broadband and supported Christmas lunches in Woolwell, helped to improve drainage in many parishes, including Shaugh Prior, and used my community funds to help improve Wembury and Down Thomas village halls.

“We’ve provided five defibrillators for some of the smaller parishes and a speed warning sign for Brixton, financially supported wildlife friendly areas at Sparkwell and Lee Mill, play equipment at Lee Moor and a community-led plan for Cornwood as well as the dementia-friendly parishes' programme and the Duke of Edinburgh scheme.

“Last year I was present at the opening of the new High Street link from Sherford to Deep Lane to welcome the residents of Sherford to Devon.

“Please support me so I can continue to support you after 6th May.” To find out more about the Conservatives in the South Hams, visit:


Christopher Oram is standing for the Liberal Democrats.

Christopher Oram

Christopher, 31, lives in Woolwell with his fiancée and is currently working in the motor industry as a sales consultant.

A spokesperson for his campaign said: “He started out in politics in 2016, after he voted leave in the EU referendum. Shortly after, he changing his mind and became a campaigner for the #RemainerNow group, then a member of the Liberal Democrats.

“Chris began working-life in hospitality and customer service. Working with and listening to people from every kind of background, Chris developed the skills and experience in relating to people of all walks of life.

“Chris aspires to be a honest, good-natured and approachable local champion who listens to the community he hopes to represent, and believes that a young, strong and fresh voice is exactly what Devon County Council needs. He and his Liberal Democrat colleagues are passionate about listening to people and making positive changes that communities can see happening in their day to day lives.”


Edward Parsons is standing for the Labour Party.

The Labour Party press office did not respond to our request for comment. To find out more about the Labour Party in the South Hams, visit:


Emma Relph is standing for Freedom Alliance

Emma Relph

A spokesperson for her campaign said: “Resident of the community for 15 years, Emma is an active member in the holistic therapy community. Emma is standing to uphold freedom of choice for all and the reclamation of our fundamental rights. 

“Emma has seen the detrimental effects of the Lockdown on the community first hand and understands how devastating Lockdown is to our community unity and cohesion in these times of enforced isolation.” To find out more about the Freedom Alliance, visit:


Win Scutt is standing for the Green Party.

He said: "I want to hold the Conservatives to account! Each pupil in a Devon school still receives £290 less than the national average. WHY? Devon Conservatives say they are campaigning against Conservative national policy but no one is listening. The Conservatives will finally listen if they lose votes.

"Pot-holes are dangerous causing damage to our vehicles. This is so wasteful. We in the Green Party hate waste! I shall investigate how the Conservatives are spending millions of YOUR pounds to repair them and why they aren’t keeping up.

"Where are the Conservatives spending your money? Is it wisely spent or is about looking after their own?

"The Green Party believes in strengthening our communities, young, old and those who need help. Every vote for us counts, and even contributes to more media coverage and funding. Find out more about our policies at Green Party Policy."

To find out more about the Green Party in the South Hams, visit



Dartmouth and Marldon

(Ashprington, Cornworthy, Dartmouth, Dittisham, Kingswear, Littlehempston, Marldon, Stoke Gabriel)


Jonathan Hawkins is the incumbent standing for the Conservative Party

Jonathan Hawkins

He said: “I have had the honour of being a County Councillor for a number of years, I care passionately for the community in which I was raised, work and live in, and want to put back into our special and beautiful area.

“Covid has bought us many challenges and it has been heartwarming to see how volunteers and public services have risen to the occasion, particularly our NHS.

“We must look after those who have been affected and help them and businesses recover and also ensure grants get to those that need assistance as efficiently as possible.

“My priorities for the next four years are increased investment in Highways, particularly repairs and drainage, Climate Change and the protection of our natural environment. 

“We live in a unique and beautiful part of the world; I want Devon to become a national leader in this field through the Devon Carbon plan on which we have made a start, I am also a member of a number of sustainability groups. Public transport is also important for us, in an area as rural as ours.

“I hope that you will support me on 6th May to ensure you have an experienced and strong voice at County Hall.” To find out more about the Conservatives in the South Hams, visit:


Carlo Bragagnolo is standing for Reform UK (formerly the Brexit Party). 

Carlo Bragagnolo

He said: “I have lived and worked in South Devon since 1987 having moved from the Isle of Wight. Up until I retired in 2015, I have consistently worked in the field of Social Care working with children and families both for the Local Authority and in a private capacity.

“I am standing for a council seat on behalf of the Reform UK party. I stand to give people choices and to seek to reform local and national politics to decentralise power from central government and to make local decisions for local people.

“Underpinning all development is the government’s failed strategy of lockdown and the removal of the rights and responsibilities of individuals which has been largely supported by the current opposition parties. I believe it is necessary to give back individual rights and choices to ensure global recovery for both the local community and the nation and this will be my major aspiration. 

“I believe it is necessary to our economy, our children, our elderly, our general and mental health to restore our freedoms and ensure that we never return to the lockdown strategies, which caused so much damage and has had such a destructive and detrimental impact upon us all.  By doing this we can focus again on ensuring the following: full access to our health services, full access to a comprehensive educational experience, growth in economic activity based in local towns and cities, and an emphasis on developing family and social relationships.

“I strongly believe that this will lead to a stronger economy as well as greater health and well being for the community as a whole.”


Lynn Gunnigle is standing for the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition

Lynn Gunnigle

She said: “I have lived in Devon for 30 years, most people will know me through my role with the Candlelit Dartmouth Festival and my campaign to save Dartmouth and Kingswear Cottage Hospital and have our NHS beds,MIU and Services reinstated.

“I am also part of the Save Our Hospital Services Devon Campaign Group and I am involved in the current Hands off Teignmouth Hospital campaign too. Saving our NHS is my passion there must be no more cuts to our NHS, we all need it.

“After losing our NHS services here in Dartmouth we were instructed to travel 12 miles to our nearest A&E in Totnes, now Totnes A&E is also closed and our healthcare provision is becoming less and less accessible, I can not sit quietly with that. We need our NHS services returned now.

“I have seen the impact the last 10 years of austerity has had on the people of the South Hams. Vital public services we all rely on have been devastated by Government cuts nationally and locally.

“Working families should not have to worry where their next meal is coming from in the fifth richest country in the world  or go cap in hand to the Government to have low wages topped up to poverty rate benefits. I hope to be your working class voice in the council chambers.

“If elected I will oppose all cuts across the board the councils should use their powers to set an emergency needs based budget that meets the needs of everyone in our communities. Please consider voting for me on 6 May 2021.”


Kevin John is standing for the Labour Party.

The Labour Party press office did not respond to our request for comment. To find out more about the Labour Party in the South Hams, visit:


Christian Parkes is standing for Freedom Alliance

Christian Parkes

A spokesperson for his campaign said: “Born and raised in South Hams, Christian finds our county’s natural beauty his inspiration. He is deeply concerned about the global health crisis and the loss of basic freedoms. 

“He believes that it is our right to vote and we should vote to protect our rights. We must reinstate the right to freely gather and protest; to assemble socially and for sport and to protect children and other vulnerable people from medical tyranny.” To find out more about the Freedom Alliance, visit: 


Simon Rake is standing for the Liberal Democrats.

He said: "I’m Simon Rake, a freelance translator. I moved back to Devon 25 years ago and have been active in a variety of community organisations ever since. I joined Blackawton Parish Council in 2010 and have been its chairman since 2016. My work on the parish council has given me a good insight into the challenges faced by the county council and I am standing for election now because I believe that Devon County Council is in urgent need of a fresh approach to these challenges.

"I feel very lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world. But I am also aware that our environment, our communities and our economy are exposed to many pressures, and the council needs to do more to make sure that they all thrive. I have been particularly motivated to stand by the failure of Devon County Council, under its current Conservative leadership, to provide an adequate standard of care for children and young people, the most vulnerable in our society.

"The council were warned of these shortcomings years ago, and yet the latest Ofsted report still shows that they are failing our most vulnerable children.

"This is an area with some incredible advantages. By listening carefully to residents, I believe we can protect these advantages and make sure that everyone can share their benefits."

To find out more about the Liberal Democrats in the South Hams, visit:





Roger Croad is the incumbent standing for the Conservative Party.

The Conservative press office did not respond to our request for comment. To find out more about the Conservatives in the South Hams, visit:


Victor Abbott is standing for the Liberal Democrats.

Victor Abbott

He said: “I’m Victor Abbott, standing for Devon County Council in the Ivybridge Division. I’ve lived here since 1989 after working abroad and at sea, then as a lecturer at Plymouth University, and now retired.

“I was elected to South Hams District Council in 2019. In seeking election to the County Council, I’m asking to represent the town across the artificial divide of district (at Totnes) and county (at Exeter). This is not unusual with three Councillors from three parties in the South Hams doing the same.

“As an opposition party at South Hams the Liberal Democrats have shown leadership on environmental issues, setting aside monies for district and local initiatives. We are asking the voters of Ivybridge West to elect Katie Reville of the Green Party in the by-election. This singular change will permit green-job creation in the South Hams.

“I am looking forward to taking action on housing, children’s mental health and – as you’ve seen in my leaflets and letters - potholes. Why didn’t the current administration spend the money they had allocated in their own budget?”

You can find out more about the Liberal Democrats here:


Simon Gedye is standing for Freedom Alliance.

Simon Gedye

A spokesperson for his campaign said: “A married father of four, Simon has been a natural conservative but has been appalled by the mishandling of healthcare and the economy in particular during the past 18 months. 

“Simon is standing to advocate for all the community, to prevent further erosion of rights and liberties and to reestablish trust and local sovereignty in the community. Specialist researcher into macro economics and banking ethics.” To find out more about the Freedom Alliance, visit:


David Trigger is standing for the Labour Party.

The Labour Party press office did not respond to our request for comment. To find out more about the Labour Party in the South Hams, visit:



(Blackawton, Charleton, Chivelstone, East Allington, East Portlemouth, Frogmore and Sherford, Kingsbridge, Slapton, South Pool, Stoke Fleming, Stokenham and Strete)


Julian Brazil is the incumbent standing for the Liberal Democrats

Julian Brazil

A spokesperson for his campaign said: “Julian Brazil lives in East Prawle near Kingsbridge. He is a councillor for the local area and works helping with the accounts for several local businesses. He has an honours degree in Zoology from Bristol University and is a former science teacher.

“Julian has an excellent reputation as a local councillor. He is well known for campaigning and supporting his local communities. He is a vociferous supporter of genuinely affordable housing for local people.

“His main areas of interest are health, education and, as a former chairman of the Green Liberal Democrats, the environment. He is a past captain of the East Prawle cricket team and plays darts and euchre for the Pigs Nose Inn.

“His priorities are extra money for potholes and road maintenance, genuinely affordable housing for young families, reducing food miles by 50 per cent in the South Hams, double council tax for second homes and supporting the ‘20’s plenty’ speed campaign.”


Peter Burgess is standing for Freedom Alliance.

Peter Burgess

A spokesperson for his campaign said: “With a firm belief in honest, open and uncensored debate, Pete Burgess feels this is an important time to halt the oppression of all citizens.  

“Pete is putting himself forward to bring a public debate on all matters relating to freedom and health during the emergency legislation. Pete has been a long standing activist who made a significant contribution to the anti fracking movement and he is standing up again to protect.” To find out more about the Freedom Alliance, visit:


Samantha Dennis is standing for the Conservative Party.

Samantha Dennis

She said: “My name is Samantha Dennis, I am 33 years old, a new Mum and have lived and worked in Kingsbridge for the past twelve years.

“I have managed the Kingsbridge Information Centre for the past ten years and before that worked for the National Trust. I have been chairman, and am now secretary of the Kingsbridge and Salcombe Chamber of Commerce. 

“In the past I have been a Kingsbridge Town Councillor and am now secretary of both Kingsbridge Fair Week and Kingsbridge Celebrates Christmas. I am a trustee for a local charity that provides activities for adults with learning differences, and sit on the Partnership Committee of the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty as their Tourism Representative.

“In my free time I am a keen walker, an enthusiastic gardener and new allotmenteer, and enjoy going for a paddle with my family in our canoe. I love the South Hams and have an insatiable need to understand and protect it. I won’t be happy until I have walked every footpath, studied the history of each town, village and hamlet, but most importantly met each and every one of you.

“This is why I want to be your Devon County Councillor. If you vote for me, I promise to do everything I possibly can, to make your life better now, and protect this unique place and community, for future generations.” 

You can find out more about Samantha’s candidacy here: 


Paul Furlong is standing for the Labour Party.

The Labour Party press office did not respond to our request for comment. To find out more about the Labour Party in the South Hams, visit:


Bettina Rixon is standing for the Green Party

Bettina Rixon

She said: “I am standing for the Green Party to ensure the environment is put first in policy making at county council level. By doing so, we have a greater chance to reach carbon neutrality by 2030 and play our part in reducing rising CO2 levels. 

“I would like to see a significant shift of the workforce to the renewable energy sector, the elimination of waste to landfill and the phasing out of agrochemicals on our farms and in our gardens, as well as on communal ground. 

“Socially, we need to extend food banks to include food hubs, debate a universal income, improve bus and rail services and create safe cycling opportunities. We need to encourage sustainable holidays and save biodiversity across the county through rewilding and reforestation. 

“As a Marine Biologist by profession, our coastlines and open waters are of particular concern to me, and I am keen that, after COVID-19, we do not return to normal but enact a restorative revolution for the benefit of people here and everywhere.”


(Aveton Gifford, Bigbury, Buckland-Tout-Saints, Churchstow, Halwell and Moreleigh, Kingston, Loddiswell, Malborough, Modbury, Ringmore, Salcombe, South Huish, South Milton, Thurlestone, West Alvington and Woodleigh)


Rufus Gilbert is the incumbent standing for the Conservative Party.

Rufus Gilbert

He said: “I have served the Division of Salcombe now for eight years which covers seventeen parishes including Modbury and Salcombe, stretching from the River Erme to Salcombe estuary and extending up to Harbertonford. 

“I have been a strong proven voice for my Division on the County and very much hope to be given the opportunity to continue. I have lived locally since 1983 and started some successful businesses in the South Hams. 

“I genuinely understand the needs and issues of the community such as broadband speeds and highway repairs. We all know this summer is to be busier than normal and with it will come many stresses on the resident population. I will do all I can to help mitigate these problems. I will always listen and make myself available to serve you.” To find out more about the Conservatives in the South Hams, visit:


Jonno Barrett is standing for the Labour Party.

The Labour Party press office did not respond to our request for comment. To find out more about the Labour Party in the South Hams, visit:


Jim Blake is standing for Freedom Alliance.

Jim Blake

A spokesperson for his campaign said: “Thirty years in South Hams, Jim and his family love our beautiful part of the country deeply. Increasingly aware of fraud and corruption in government and the establishment, Jim is standing for the Freedom Alliance to bring a spotlight on the major societal problems and to help give a voice to the community who have been rendered mute. 

“The time has come to stand strong and Jim will stand his ground.” To find out more about the Freedom Alliance, visit:


Mark Lawrence is standing for the Liberal Democrats.

Mark Lawrence

He said: “I think I'm an ideal candidate to be your next County Councillor in the Salcombe division which includes my home town of Modbury. I have been both a parish councillor and a district councillor for Modbury.

“I grew up in Slapton and went to school in Kingsbridge.  I even played soccer for Salcombe boys a few times up on the Berry!  My parents moved to Thurlestone, also in the Salcombe division, so I know the area very well and my love of the South Hams is one reason we came back when I retired.

“Most of my working life was spent with Somerset County Council, in Planning, Finance and Chief Executive's Departments so I am well aware of the issues facing Local Government.

“I'm a member of the South Hams Society and care very much about our local environment.  I campaigned against the massive number of houses that were proposed for the South Hams in the Joint Local Plan and spoke on this at the public examination in February 2018.  

“What we need are more genuinely affordable homes for our local people, not investment properties and second homes.”


Lily Rixon is standing for the Green Party.

Lily Rixon

She said: “It has never been more important to stand for the Green Party. My work would achieve more support for young people in terms of clubs, activities and mental health services. 

“I will also push for greater funding to boost household energy self-sufficiency and development of a workforce to carry this transition out.

“We must fairly reward those in caring professions (particularly those who care for our elderly). They continue to put in amazing effort, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I will promote eco-living opportunities in our towns and villages. The latest climate science shows serious action needs to be taken immediately or it will be too late for our planet. We must restore sea life diversity and nature along our beautiful coastline and reduce chemical spraying of farmland. Farmers need support establishing wild margins around crop fields and nature corridors (which enable animal migration) which will increase our wildlife.”

To find out more about the Green Party in the South Hams, visit:


South Brent and Yealmpton

(Dean Prior, Diptford, Ermington, Holbeton, Holne, Newton and Noss, North Huish, Rattery, South Brent, Ugborough, West Buckfastleigh and Yealmpton)


Richard Hosking is the incumbent standing for the Conservative Party.

Richard Hosking

He said: “In this digital age, Devon has an opportunity to break free from the limitations geography previously imposed on the county, and emerge as a productive innovator in the transition from hydrocarbon to net-zero carbon economy, in harmony with the countryside and natural world. 

“At County Hall, we can facilitate a smooth journey to a stronger, more productive economy by championing private enterprise and promoting high quality infrastructure. We can help to roll out fibre broadband to premises, explore benefits of railway restoration, secure aviation opportunities for the region and improve our roads.

“75 percent of our £585 million annual revenue budget is dedicated to Social Care, looking after the young, elderly and vulnerable. Demand for these statutory services has increased dramatically. I believe Early Help and an integrated service hold the key, wrapping support around families as soon as problems are identified will reduce the ongoing demand for and cost of services in future years.

“Ugborough was my childhood home and I have lived and worked in the South Hams first on the family farm and then as a rural surveyor for my entire career to date. I believe this was an ideal preparation to represent the interests of the people of Devon at County Hall.” To find out more about the Conservatives in the South Hams, visit:


Paul Bishop is standing for the Labour Party.

The Labour Party press office did not respond to our request for comment. To find out more about the Labour Party in the South Hams, visit:


James Sandy is standing for Freedom Alliance.

James Sandy

A spokesperson for his campaign said: “Self-employed, Jim has seen the devastating effects the lockdown has had on so many, to small and medium businesses but ultimately to families and the wider community. Jim is looking for your vote as a vote for reclaiming your freedoms and rights. 

“Jim is committed to standing up to the mainstream narrative and offering a viable alternative for people in the face of the capitulation by all other parties.” To find out more about the Freedom Alliance, visit:


Daniel Thomas is standing for the Liberal Democrats.

Daniel did not contact us about his campaign. To find out more about the Liberal Democrats in the South Hams, visit:


Totnes and Dartington

(Berry Pomeroy, Dartington, Harberton, Staverton and Totnes)


Jacqi Hodgson is the incumbent standing for the Green Party.

Jacqi Hodgson

She said: “This year’s election finds us all in a different place.  We must demand better from our local services to meet the cracks in the system that have become more apparent through the pandemic.  

“The rising demand on local food banks has demonstrated a clear need for improved economic fairness and equality. Our beloved but depleted NHS has risen outstandingly to the challenges of COVID only because it has outstanding staff; they deserve a fair wage and the support of more care staff at county level. 

“In the past four years as your councillor at DCC, I have put the climate crisis, pension fund investment, better care, youth needs, cyclepaths, footpaths, wildlife, air quality, roughsleepers, refugees and speed limits on the agenda and have achieved some improvements. 

“The Green Agenda cares for people, the planet and the economy. I need your vote to enable me to keep up this dedicated work.”

To find out more about the Green Party in the South Hams, visit:


Jill Hannam is standing for the Labour Party.

The Labour Party press office did not respond to our request for comment. To find out more about the Labour Party in the South Hams, visit:


Stephen Hopwood is standing for Freedom Alliance.

Stephen Hopwood

A spokesperson for his campaign said: “Dr Hopwood has been running his holistic practice in Totnes for more than 25 years and has been an active member of the community. 

“Dr Hopwood is a regular public speaker and advocate for health, well-being and medical freedom. He is standing to protect local businesses, end the lockdowns, protect the children and ensure a bright future for all, with all of our human rights and freedoms fully restored.”

To find out more about the Freedom Alliance, visit:


Jamie Rogers is standing for the Conservative Party.

Jamie did not contact us about his campaign. To find out more about the Conservatives in the South Hams, visit:


Devon County Council candidates tell us about themselves

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