Campaigner vows to take on LDF after election win

A campaigner from West Hill swept to victory in the district elections and has vowed to fight to alter controversial plans for the future of East Devon.

Claire Wright, a Town Councillor for West Hill and a leading figure in the Communities Before Developers protest group, netted 1,364 votes to oust EDDC leader and Conservative candidate Sara Randall Johnson.

Conservative Tony Howard will also represent the ward after netting 822 votes, but said his happiness with tinged with sadness at Cllr Randall Johnson’s defeat, who he wanted to thank for being his ‘mentor’ during the election campaign.

Labour’s Judith Blackwell also missed out, polling 263 votes in the Ottery St Mary Rural ward, which had a massive turnout of 62.3 per cent.

On her victory, Cllr Wright said: “I hoped I would win, I had spoken to many people across the ward and the reaction was positive but I wasn’t expecting the scale of the result last Friday.”

She said her main priority at Knowle will be to dramatically change the LDF, which is a blueprint for the future of housing, business and industry, and would like to be on a scrutiny committee to help provide an alternative voice to EDDC’s large Conservative majority.

Cllr Howard said he planned to focus on preventing overdevelopment in the area, but also on providing enough affordable homes and jobs for young people. He added: “The Conservatives polled more than 1,600 votes, so the vast majority still believe in the Conservative mandate and I am very happy with that support.

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But of course we are sad about losing her [Sara Randall Johnson], we know she was targeted by the Independent vote and she was judged by recent times and not her great work over the last 20 years.”