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REACTION: UKIP win two seats but Tories maintain stronghold

14:17 03 May 2013

Newly elected county councillors at the Torridge count - Barry Parsons, Andrew Eastman, Andrew Boyd and Gaston Dezart. Picture: Ray Smith.

Newly elected county councillors at the Torridge count - Barry Parsons, Andrew Eastman, Andrew Boyd and Gaston Dezart. Picture: Ray Smith.

Ray Smith

Candidates have been speaking out about the results of today’s elections - more reactions and videos here.

VIDEOS: Barry Parsons and Gaston Dezart talk after the election results. Video by Ray Smith.

MIXED reactions have been coming in across North Devon and Torridge with UKIP taking two seats in the Devon County elections.

Conservatives still maintained a lead with five seats in North Devon and three in Torridge.

But in a surprise twist UKIP took two seats in Torridge, ousting the Tory seat holders.

In Bideford East UKIP chairman for Torridge Gaston Dezart stole a shock win just 35 votes ahead of Conservative seat holder Sam Robinson.

Cllr Dezart, who at 80 is one of the oldest county councillors, said the win was completely unexpected and now the pressure was on to follow in Cllr Robinson’s footsteps.

“We put our efforts into the three seats we thought would be winnable including Robin Julian who won the seat in Bideford South and Hartland,” said Cllr Dezart.

“I put so much effort into backing those candidates I didn’t print any flyers, posters, or anything.

“I was quite surprised to win and with only 35 more votes than Sam Robinson who held the seat before me.

“He was offered a recount but he was the perfect gentleman and I am glad to say we are still friends.”

Cllr Dezart said he would be looking at issues such as the number of wind turbine applications in Torridge and the prospective Atlantic Park development.

“We have had a lot more votes in this election than we did in the last one,” added Cllr Dezart.

“Last year Robin Julian only lost by about 40 votes so this year we were very pleased that he won.”

And there were some close votes across the region with UKIP coming a close second in many areas.

In Holsworthy Rural, Conservative Barry Parsons held on to his seat with 47 per cent of the votes, but UKIP candidate Penny Mills was close behind with 38 per cent.

“I’m over the moon with the result,” she said.

“I got nearly 40 per cent of the vote and if 182 people who had voted for Conservative had voted for me, I would have been elected.

“All from a standing start of zero; I’ve never done this before, no previous history of standing and no UKIP candidate before.

“I’m thrilled to bits with a very close second.”

Closely fought battle

In Fremington, it was a tight battle between independent candidates Rodney Cann and Frank Biederman.

Biederman stole victory from former seat-holder Cann with 45.6 per cent of the votes, and Cann coming second with 27 per cent.

Speaking at the vote count earlier today, Biederman said he was completely overwhelmed by the results.

He said: “I only had two hours sleep last night; it was such a close fight.

“I had good feedback on the doorstep with lots of people saying they respect the work Rodney Cann and I have done.

“I think it was a very difficult decision for people to have to make.

“I want to thank all my friends, family and supporters, and I will work as hard as Rodney and I want to pay tribute to him for all the help he has given the area.”

Barnstaple North saw another win for Brian Greenslade, who gained a majority of 287 votes.

He said: “I am very pleased to have been elected and am particularly grateful to the region of Barnstaple North for their votes.

“I have been here 28 years and now I am starting on another four years.

“I believe I must be on of the longest serving county councillors at North Devon Council.”

Conservative hold

Overall the majority of seats were held by Conservative candidates.

Caroline Chugg held her Braunton seat with a majority of 331 votes, despite believing she had lost.

“Last night and this morning I really didn’t think I had won it,” she said.

“But I am starting to come around to the fact I have got in again now.

“It was such a close running thing and I am delighted to be able to carry on with the work I have been doing.”

In North Devon, Tories’ Andrea Davis and Richard Edgell held on to their respective seats in Combe Martin Rural and Chulmleigh & Swimbridge.

In Torridge, Barry Parsons, Andrew Eastman and Andy Boyd held onto Holsworthy Rural, Northam and Torrington Rural for the Tories.

Geoffrey Cox, MP for Torridge and West Devon, congratulated the winning candidates and paid tribute to Tories’ Alison Boyle and Sam Robinson who lost their seats.

He said: “Just as with Devon as a whole, these are very good results for the Conservatives in Torridge and West Devon, where five out of seven of the county wards have been held by their Conservative councillors after the unprecedented outcome of the 2009 elections.

“Sam Robinson worked his socks off for Bideford East, earning great respect from local people, and I am extremely sad that he lost the election by a whisker. Alison Boyle too.

“But, apart from the winning Conservatives, Barry Parsons, Andrew Eastman and Andy Boyd, whose four years of genuine service to their communities stood them in good stead, I want to congratulate UKIP’s Gaston Dezart (Bideford East) and Robin Julian (Bideford South and Hartland) upon their success.

“Now begins, for all of the successful candidates, the steady, relentless, patient service of their communities that elected office requires. I wish them all well.”

Overall the Conservatives lost three seats, Lib Dem lost four seats, Labour gained one seat, UKIP gained four, Greens gained one and Independents lost one.

Overall the Conservatives lost three seats, Lib Dem lost four seats, Labour gained one seat, UKIP gained four, Greens gained one and Independents lost one.

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