Local Elections 2023: Meet the candidates for Axminster, Trinity and Yarty wards


Ahead of next week’s East Devon District Council elections, here you can read more about candidates standing in and around Axminster.

Below, candidates for the Axminster, Trinity and Yarty wards have offered statements ahead of polling day on Thursday, May 4.

To find out more information on the upcoming election – including a list of candidates for all wards across East Devon or details of your local polling station – visit https://eastdevon.gov.uk/elections-and-registering-to-vote/election-information/

Don’t forget, under new government guidelines, you will need to show proof of ID at the polling station. More details on acceptable forms of ID can be found at https://www.gov.uk/how-to-vote/photo-id-youll-need


Three seats available

Ian Hall, Steven Holt and David Willey – Conservative

Ian Hall is a lifelong Axminster resident, current chair of Devon County Council and an East Devon district councillor for Axminster. He is dedicated to improving the infrastructure of the town, education facilities and employment opportunities in Axminster.

Steve has the health and well-being of people at the heart of the work he does within his various charity roles and as a town councillor. He is passionate about the improvements needed to rejuvenate a ‘shop local’ town centre and make Axminster an even better place to live, work and socialise in. 

David moved to this area to give his growing family a secure life in wonderful East Devon, bringing with him very significant expertise in setting up and working with youth groups. Ian, Steve and David offer a wealth of experience to deliver the things people in Axminster have told them they want for the town.

At the last elections, the Conservatives lost their majority. The first action of the new alliance council was to stop any debate on a relief road for Axminster. Four years later we are no further on; there is still no discussion about poor air quality or safety issues due to congestion, or a wider infrastructure review to unblock our choking town centre.

Ian, Steve and David’s overwhelming priority are the needs of everyone in Axminster. They agree that “we need to ensure the best outcomes for everyone, through the full cycle of life, and to help improve the health and prosperity of everyone who lives here”.

Paul Hayward – Independent

I am often asked why someone would give up their spare time to serve as a councillor. Why sit through endless meetings, reading thousands of pages of reports and documents, getting home late and missing out on time with family and friends?

There’s no easy answer. I genuinely believe that each of us wants to help our neighbours and those living nearby whenever and wherever we can. That’s an instinctive human trait. Politics, however, can be a huge turn-off for a great many. Too much talking, not enough doing. Too many arguments, not enough agreement. The perception is that tax-payer’s hard-earned money is frittered away on daft projects. Perception is everything.

I have served Axminster (and parishes nearby) since 2011 – starting just four years after I moved here from “sunny” Slough with my family. We chose to come here because Axminster offered a bright future, an opportunity to live in the glorious Devon countryside and a chance to live in a small community where you could make a real difference and feel welcome.

In the last 12 years, I have met thousands of people – both as a town and district councillor, and as a member of staff to four wonderful local parish and town councils – and I have no doubt that Axminster is one of the friendliest places in the UK. Certainly, our motto “Axminster – the home of Community Spirit” is well-founded and well-deserved.

Since 2019, I have served as an EDDC councillor (for Yarty ward) but also as the deputy leader of the council, and Cabinet member for economy. During those four years, our lives have been turned upside down by the impact of Covid and the worst ‘cost-of-living’ crisis since the 1950s.

There is still so much to be done to create a brighter, better future for Axminster. Please consider trusting your three votes on May 4 to Sarah, Simon and myself – your independent candidates – and allow us to make that difference. People before politics. Public before party. Service before self-interest.

Please vote independent and vote for Paul Hayward.

Integrity. Honesty. Accountability.

Sarah Jackson – Independent

I have been living in Axminster for over a decade now. I am running for re-election to EDDC as an independent candidate. This time, I am standing with two outstanding independent colleagues – Simon and Paul. I am incredibly proud of this town and its community, and I’m committed to continuing my efforts to make Axminster a better place for all.

During the pandemic, I helped found ACER, a community organisation that provided support and assistance to the most vulnerable in Axminster. I also volunteer for the Axminster Banners group and for the Axminster Christmas Together lunch. These experiences have reinforced my belief in the strength of community spirit here.

Over the past four years, I’ve worked hard to advocate for residents and business owners in the area through one of the most challenging times in living memory. I ensured the transfer of Jubilee Field into public ownership. I secured significant funding from EDDC for the Axminster Skatepark, a project which was only made possible because I encouraged multiple organisations to cooperate where they had not done so before.

Additionally, I have made protecting the environment and promoting biodiversity projects a priority and have consistently opposed inappropriate housing developments that don’t deliver the necessary infrastructure.

Each of us believe that we can achieve even more for our town by working together. We believe that our locally elected representatives should be accountable to the public. We are committed to putting the needs of Axminster first, rather than the interests of a national political party.

Axminster has enormous potential, and with the right approach, we can achieve a bright future for the town while maintaining its unique charm. By electing three independent councillors, we can unlock Axminster’s potential and meet the needs of a growing population in more appropriate ways while preserving our community spirit and natural surroundings.

As election day approaches, please use all three of your votes to elect independent councillors who will put you first. Together, we can make positive changes for our community. Thank you for your support, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and concerns.

Gillian Jordan – Liberal Democrats

I have lived at Raymonds Hill, in the EDDC ward of Axminster for 13 years and am standing as the Liberal Democrat candidate in the forthcoming elections. I have extensive experience in the education sector – as a primary school teacher, an adviser and a school governor. I am currently a member of the Axminster Medical Practice PPG (Patient Participation Group), which aims to improve links between the community and the medical practice.

I’m backing the Lib Dem plan for East Devon:

  • Fighting for fairer funding to protect local services; 
  • Protecting the environment – continuing to lead the way to a cleaner and greener future for all;
  • Protecting our most vulnerable people.

My priorities for Axminster are:

  • Holding the water authorities to account by ending the scandal of regularly dumping sewage into the Rivers Axe and Yarty;
  • Supporting the local groups working to reduce single use plastic, recognising their success;
  • The provision of more hospital services to be located at Axminster hospital, in order to reduce the number of journeys patients have to make to Royal Devon & Exeter hospital;
  • The provision of affordable homes for local people when new house building resumes. The issue of phosphates in our rivers is a serious one and is severely restricting the house- building programme;
  • The need to consider ways of reducing heavy traffic travelling through the town centre, to make it a safer place for pedestrians;
  • More investment and innovation to reduce the number of empty shops in Axminster;
  • Consulting with the County Council to address the issues of speeding on our roads and the appalling state of many of our roads due to pot holes! 
  • Acting as a voice for children with Special Educational Needs and their parents. Provision in the Axminster area is insufficient to meet their needs.

I am fighting for a fair deal for Axminster.

Simon Smith – Independent

You have the power to effect real change in Axminster. As someone who lives and works in this town, I know first-hand the struggles faced by individuals in our community. That’s why my colleagues, Paul, Sarah, and I are running as independent candidates in the upcoming election. We’re passionate about working together with you to bring vitality and a fresh perspective to our town.

In my role as a community manager in Axminster, I have seen the gaps in provision and heard about people’s struggles. I don’t believe in party politics, and I think that real change can only come from individuals working together to get things done.

Our priority as independent candidates is to work collaboratively with you to bring vibrancy back to Axminster. We want to protect our community assets from opportunistic developers and promote much-needed improvements to reduce congestion in our town. We want to ensure that every person in Axminster, regardless of their background or circumstances, has access to the services they need.

If elected, we promise to take action to solve the concerns you’ve shared with us. We’ll listen to your ideas and work collaboratively with you to find practical solutions to the challenges facing our town. Transparency is essential to us, and we will keep you informed about our work and decisions.

We’re not professional politicians; we’re just members of our community who care deeply about Axminster’s future. We believe that our shared skills and experiences make us the perfect candidates to represent our town. We’re passionate about working together with you to bring vitality back to Axminster, and we’re committed to making it happen.

We humbly ask for your vote on May 4 to help us bring about the positive change that each of us in Axminster deserves.

Jeremy Walden – Labour

I have lived in Axminster for 40 years. With my family I ran a pub and restaurant and latterly a sandwich-making and distribution business. I retired last year. I am an Axminster town councillor, governor at Axe Valley Academy and chair of trustees for arc, a local mental health charity.

If elected I will generally support the independent alliance, but be separate from it as I feel they have not got it totally right.

EDDC is not right in developing its new local plan by not co-ordinating new housing with infrastructure. In this it is not challenging its officers who should act according to councillor’s policy decisions, not the other way round.

EDDC has also not acted in robust enough way to South West Water’s blatant treatment of excessive sewage outflows. This must end.


One seat available

Andrew Turner – Conservative

For those of you who don’t know me I am Andy Turner, the fourth generation of my family to live in Uplyme Parish. I am acutely aware of the things that matter to local people here, and in the rest of Trinity ward.

I have been an Uplyme parish councillor for 17 years, currently deputy chairman and chairman of the Planning Committee. I am deeply involved in a number of important community roles, including being snow and flood warden and 37 years as a police special, rising to the rank of Chief Superintendent.

Partnership working is a key part of being a councillor and I will work with our county councillor, MP and any other individual or organisation that can improve lives in Trinity ward. My management and relationship experience gained over many years in various roles will be an invaluable part of my job, if elected.

I am an active member of the community and would like the opportunity to serve everyone in Trinity Ward with the same enthusiasm that I have done in Uplyme over many years, pulling together the many positive elements of the three parishes, working together and supporting each other, not least with greater emphasis on the provision of ‘real’ affordable housing for local people.

I will maintain and build new relationships to ensure the voice of Trinity is well represented and heard at all levels of local and national government. Together, we will engage with utility companies across a wide range of issues, from roads and drains, to reducing the impacts of the unexpected, such as the cost of living crisis and weather emergencies. 

Also standing in the Trinity ward is Susan Westerman – Liberal Democrats.


One seat available

Richard Norman – Conservative

People ask me why I am interested in politics. Put simply, all of my life I have tried to help people make the most of their lives, whether at work or rest. Local politics is an extension of that desire to get even more done. I am motivated and organised, having worked in the engineering industry for 30 years in IT programme and project management, moving to Devon eight years ago to start with my wife to start the next chapter of my life.

Team work is import to me, not working in isolation. I look forward to working with likeminded people in the wider Axminster area, who like me are committed to their local communities, in my case with a very clear emphasis on all of the villages and communities in Yarty ward. My clear aim is to work with them to promote ways of us improving the wellbeing and prosperity of all people who live here; not least with the local county councillors to us the £9million they have just received from government to fix potholes!

Significant proposals recently announced by the government will hopefully ensure communities gain the maximum influence, to benefit from these important changes to planning policy housing policy, being at the heart of deciding how many homes will be built and where.

I am committed to promoting wider alternative energy use, but not at the expense of our countryside. I support new ways of generating green energy, including use of ground source heat pumps, where viable.

Duncan Staddon – Green Party

I’m excited to be standing for a party that genuinely wants to make a difference. I’ve worked closely with a number of charities over the years and am aware of how tough it is for families at the moment.

If elected I’d do all I can to help families that are struggling. As a Dad, I also believe it’s crucial we do all we can to protect our environment for future generations and work towards a fairer more equal society. 

Also standing for Yarty is Duncan Mackinder – Liberal Democrats.

All the above statements were supplied by candidates personally. All candidates for the above wards were offered the opportunity to submit a statement up to the same maximum word count, by the same deadline. Some chose to submit joint statements.