Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged a new hospital in North Devon within 10 years.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson at Chulmleigh Community College with executive headteacher Michael Johnson. Picture: Tony GussinPrime Minister Boris Johnson at Chulmleigh Community College with executive headteacher Michael Johnson. Picture: Tony Gussin

The Conservative Party leader was visiting Chulmleigh Community College as his General Election campaign trail took him to Devon today (Thursday, November 28).

Mr Johnson pledged in September to spend billions on new hospitals and improvements to existing buildings and he confirmed today that North Devon was on the list for a new hospital for Barnstaple.

He said seed funding had been earmarked for Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust to begin the process and it had previously been said Barnstaple would get a new hospital in 2025-30.

It was Mr Johnson's second visit to the school - in 2016, the day after he had ruled himself out of the then Tory leadership contest, he laid a foundation stone for the next phase of building work.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets students at Chulmleigh Community College. Picture: Tony GussinPrime Minister Boris Johnson meets students at Chulmleigh Community College. Picture: Tony Gussin

The visit of course was centred around education and funding for rural areas such as North Devon, ironically at a school which Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate Alex White attended from 2003 to 2008.

Mr Johnson said: "This new government that I am leading is putting even more money in and we are levelling up funding across the whole country, a 4.9 per cent increase here in rural Devon."

Executive headteacher Michael Johnson said the college was delighted to welcome the Prime Minister.

He added: "It's really special for us in a very rural remote area to have somebody with the gravity of a prime minister coming to have a look around the school, speak to our children and have a look at what we do, so we are really pleased

The Conservative 'Get Brexit Done' battle bus parked outside Chulmleigh Community College during the visit by party leader Boris Johnson. Picture: Tony GussinThe Conservative 'Get Brexit Done' battle bus parked outside Chulmleigh Community College during the visit by party leader Boris Johnson. Picture: Tony Gussin

"There are a number of particular concerns in the college and in the primary schools that we have got, so we had a private conversation around those.

"It's around how central government can support schools in very remote and rural areas and it's great that the Prime Minister came up and was prepared to hear all that."

New hospital

Chulmleigh Community College students gathered to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Tony GussinChulmleigh Community College students gathered to meet Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: Tony Gussin

On the health service, he confirmed North Devon was on the list for funding for a new hospital. He said: "Northern Devon Healthcare Trust is on the list and it has received seed finding to develop their plans.

"It's a definite because we are putting tens of millions of pounds into these projects and that's a lot of money to blow on just coming up with architects' drawings.

"We are going to be taking these projects forward and as a result of the investments we are making, we will have 14 more hospitals, including in North Devon, in 10 year's time.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps with a science demonstration with Ruby Cutler (left), year 11 head girl, and Matthew Upright, year 11 head boy, during a visit Chulmleigh Community College. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA WirePrime Minister Boris Johnson helps with a science demonstration with Ruby Cutler (left), year 11 head girl, and Matthew Upright, year 11 head boy, during a visit Chulmleigh Community College. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

"We are already putting £34billion into the NHS, we are putting 50,000 more nurses into the NHS, 6,000 more GPs and what you need is a strong robust economy to enable us to fund massive expenditure on the NHS and that's what we are doing.

"It would be disastrous if you were to go for an economic policy that basically starts to treat the private sector as somehow an enemy and to put up spending and taxes so high that it takes a sledgehammer to the economy which is what Corbyn and McDonnell would do, and we want to fund the NHS very generously indeed."

'Utter hypocrisy'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson helps with a science demonstration with Ruby Cutler, year 11 head girl, and Matthew Upright, year 11 head boy, during a visit to Chulmleigh Community College. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA WirePrime Minister Boris Johnson helps with a science demonstration with Ruby Cutler, year 11 head girl, and Matthew Upright, year 11 head boy, during a visit to Chulmleigh Community College. Picture: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

However, North Devon Lib Dem PPC Alex White said his old school was 'a school with budgets cut to the bone'.

The Lib Dems say figures from the National Education Union show it will see a £273,620 shortfall, once increasing pupil numbers are taken into account, equivalent to a cut of £456 per pupil.

Mr White said: "This is utter hypocrisy from a Prime Minister who has presided over these sickening cuts.

"I am proud to be an alumni of Chumleigh School and I know the high quality of the teaching staff there. It is because of these staff that I have had the very best start in life. But these teachers, and these pupils, deserve better.

"Boris Johnson and the Conservatives have cut school budgets to the bone. I simply cannot understand why North Devon schools, like Chumleigh, continue to be horrendously underfunded."