The Chancellor of the Exchequer became the latest senior Cabinet figure to visit North Devon on Wednesday (December 4).

Sajid Javid and Selaine Saxby in Barnstaple. Picture: Matt SmartSajid Javid and Selaine Saxby in Barnstaple. Picture: Matt Smart

Sajid Javid was in Barnstaple for a tour of Lineal Software Solutions, where he heard about some of the issues North Devon faces in growing its digital businesses.

As well as a tour of the premises on The Strand from head of support Matt Norris, Mr Javid and North Devon Conservative Party candidate Selaine Saxby received a presentation from Barnstaple and District Chamber of Commerce President and chair of Digital ND, Paula Byers about the work going on in the North Devon tech and digital sector.

She said the region was crying out for more investment in fibre broadband, as well as infrastructure improvements to ensure North Devon can compete with the rest of the country.

Mr Javid said a 'strong economy' was needed to get North Devon up to speed, and said a Conservative government would prioritise investment in fibre optic broadband.

Sajid Javid arrives in Barnstaple. Picture: Matt SmartSajid Javid arrives in Barnstaple. Picture: Matt Smart

"We need to keep the economy strong, whether it's a digital business or investing in skills, whatever it is in this context it needs a strong economy," said Mr Javid.

He added: "We have prioritised investment in fibre optic. If we're re-elected, the 20 per cent in terms of full fibre not covered by the private sector - which is great and does 80 per cent - but the Government does need to step in so we can have 100 per cent of country covered.

"When people get out of London, or other big cities for that matter, and come here to places like Barnstaple, I think they are surprised with the skills they can find here, the fibre optic connection is not enough but improving.

"There's so much talent across the country and here and businesses are going out and discovering them, we've just got to encourage them to do more of that."

Sajid Javid and Selaine Saxby with Lineal's Matt Norris. Picture: Matt SmartSajid Javid and Selaine Saxby with Lineal's Matt Norris. Picture: Matt Smart

Mr Norris warned young people looking for a career in technology are forced to move away for education, and said businesses are being left behind by a lack of high-speed internet.

"Businesses aren't in danger of getting left behind, they are experiencing it right now," he said.

"We are in a bubble here. A lot of businesses use broadband, and we pay extra money to get a lease line put in, but if you go across the Square you can only get an ASDL connection of up to 2mbps.

The visit came less than a week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Chulmleigh Community College. Education secretary Gavin Williamson visited Barnstaple earlier in the campaign too.

Selaine Saxby and Sajid Javid received a presentation as part of the visit. Picture: Matt SmartSelaine Saxby and Sajid Javid received a presentation as part of the visit. Picture: Matt Smart

Ms Saxby said ministers were 'more than willing' to come and work for North Devon.

"We are a remote, rural community and we need a strong voice in Westminster," she said.

"I have the ear of ministers and they are more than willing to come and work for us here in North Devon."

The General Election on December 12 will see the North Devon constituency contested by Ms Saxby, Alex White for the Liberal Democrats, Finola O'Neill for the Labour Party, Robbie Mack for the Green Party and independent Steve Cotten.