East Devon: Lib Dems make gains as Tory support continues to drain away 

The Lib Dems have now just pipped the Conservatives to the post to become the largest party, ousting, along the way, Tory group leader Phil Skinner.

Despite the spin, see below, from Simon Jupp and yesterday’s man Phil Skinner, this is the third electoral cycle in a row in which the local Tories have lost ground. In 2011 the Tory councillors numbered 43 (in a council of 59). In 2015 this had fallen to 36. In 2019 (when the council was enlarged to 60) it had fallen further to 19, though they picked up three wards in by-elections. Now in 2023 they have fallen back to 17.

The council is now split three ways: Independents, Lib Dems and Tory.

[Independents 19, Lib Dem 18 there is now also 1 Liberal, Conservatives 17, Labour 3, Greens 2]  Full results here

Worth mentioning that the three Independents running on a combined ticket in Axminster: Paul Hayward, Deputy former Leader of the Council and Portfolio Holder Economy and Assets; and Sarah Jackson, former  Portfolio Holder Democracy, Transparency and Communications plus their like minded running mate Simon Smith; swept the board ousting two Tories. Sarah was a lone Independent in the Ward

Many of the Independents (see above) and the greens were part of the outgoing inclusive coalition. Owl hopes that this “rainbow” coalition will continue, no doubt intensive negotiations are taking place.

Questions: will the Tories now take stock of their failed vested interest policies? 

Who will now become Blue Leader given that nine of the old stagers “retired”? Those left include: Helen Parr  and Ben Ingham ? – Owl.

Local elections 2023: Lib Dems make gains as East Devon stays hung


East Devon District Council remains under no overall control, with the Lib Dems making the biggest election gains.

The party gained 11 seats, with 18 overall, including former council leader Paul Arnott’s re-election to Colley Valley. [Fact check – Owl thinks the Lib Dem total is 19 – there are 60 councillors in total]

The Independents lost eight, making their total 19, while the Conservatives won 17, conceding five, Labour won three and the Greens two.

It is likely the Democratic Alliance, a cross-party group, will retain control.

Mr Arnott, leader of the last administration, has been re-elected as a Liberal Democrat, having been elected as an Independent in 2019.

He said the result was “indicative that the Lib Dems are really bedding in now in East Devon and it promises a lot more to come”.

Violet Bonetta, one of Labour’s three winning candidates, became the youngest-ever councillor in East Devon at the age of 18, said the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS).

Ms Bonetta said she wanted to encourage more young people into politics.

“This is the first election I’ve been involved in, let alone run for an election, so I would encourage anyone thinking about running as a councillor to go for it,” she said.

Philip Skinner, the former Conservative group leader on the council, was ousted from his seat by Liberal Democrat Richard Jefferies by a couple of hundred votes.

Mr Skinner told the BBC he was “really surprised” by the outcome and hoped it was a “bump in the road” for the Tories.

Simon Jupp, Conservative MP for East Devon, said he was “disappointed” in the net loss of five councillors but that gains in Sidmouth and Exmouth were “positive”.

One thought on “East Devon: Lib Dems make gains as Tory support continues to drain away 

  1. Does Phil Skinner recognise that bumps in the road are caused by potholes, potholes that his Devon CC Tory colleagues are responsible for?


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