Election 2015 reaction: North Devon result ‘blew us away’

The North Devon declaration at the leisure centre in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble

The North Devon declaration at the leisure centre in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble - Credit: Archant

Senior district councillors have been speaking about the ‘shock’ parliamentary result that has changed the political landscape of the constituency.

Winning Conservative MP Peter Heaton-Jones speaks at the declaration in Barnstaple on Friday morning

Winning Conservative MP Peter Heaton-Jones speaks at the declaration in Barnstaple on Friday morning. Picture: Andy Keeble - Credit: Archant

Senior political figures in North Devon have been reacting to a shock parliamentary election result they say ‘has blown them away’.

The Conservatives won the seat for the first time in 23 years, ousting long-serving Liberal Democrat Nick Harvey.

Peter Heaton-Jones received 22,341 votes – a majority of 13.3 per cent.

Mr Harvey received 15,405 votes, and in third place was Steve Crowther of UKIP with 7,719 votes.

Outgoing MP Nick Harvey pictured as the declaration is read on Friday morning. Picture: Andy Keeble

Outgoing MP Nick Harvey pictured as the declaration is read on Friday morning. Picture: Andy Keeble - Credit: Archant


You may also want to watch:


Mark Cann (Labour) received 3,699 votes; Ricky Knight (Green) got 3,018 votes and Gerrard Sables (Communist) got 138 votes.

In Torridge and West Devon, Conservative Geoffrey Cox retained the seat he has held since 2005 with 28,774 votes.

Most Read

Derek Sargent (UKIP) came second with 10,371; Paula Dolphin (Lib Dem) got 7,483; Mike Sparling (Labour) got 6,015; and Cathrine Simmons (Green) polled 3,941 votes.

Phenomenal margin of victory

Cllr Des Brailey, the newly-re-elected leader of the Conservative group on North Devon Council, said of the North Devon result: “The result blew many of us away; we never dreamed Peter would win by such a margin.

“To come from 5,000 votes behind Sir Nick [in 2010] and to beat him by 7,000 was phenomenal.

“But this guy [Peter] is dynamic – he will be very good for us.”

The seat, held by Mr Harvey since 1992, was earmarked by the Tories as a top priority and Mr Heaton-Jones, who moved to North Devon from Swindon to represent the constituency, has thrown himself into his election campaign.

Debt of gratitude

He was the first to pay tribute to Mr Harvey, saying: “We have our political differences but we owe Sir Nick a debt of gratitude.”

Mr Harvey appears to have been the victim of a nationwide backlash against the Lib Dems that also saw the party lose many of its big guns including Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and Charles Kennedy.

Caught out by late surge

North Devon Council Lib Dem group leader Brian Greenslade said: “I think it took everyone by surprise; it all seemed to happen in the last 24 hours and the pollsters were caught out by the late surge.

“I think many felt that a minority Labour government would have had to have done a deal with the SNP and people plumped for the current largest party.

“I’m gutted we’ve lost Nick, who was such an outstanding and popular MP. But he has left with his reputation completely intact.

Perspective

“Clearly, as the result came through, he was pretty gutted at the size of the majority.

“It didn’t take the hurt away, but when we saw what had happened to other Lib Dem MPs around the country, it at least put the result into perspective.

“We will now be looking to our new Conservative MP who has made quite a lot of substantial pledges and will be looking very hard at what he can deliver for North Devon.”

Greenslade warned that the excitement of the election could be tempered by internal friction within the Conservative government during the next six months.

“I don’t think it will be long before we see contention among the Conservatives over Europe and other issues – a majority of only 12 is not that substantial,” he added.

For a gallery of pictures taken at the North Devon count click here.

To view Nick Harvey’s speech at the declaration, click here.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter