Compass Northern Devon in South Molton Square - Credit: Compass Northern Devon

South Molton gives a thumbs down to politics - Compass Northern Devon

South Molton gives a thumbs down to politics - Compass Northern Devon

Joseph Bulmer

At the weekend the public in South Molton Square said ‘our country has changed for the worse over the last two years,’ according to Compass Northern Devon.

Some people were content, for example one man said he felt that the housing situation had improved because he had just bought two more houses and was quite happy.

However, the great majority thought things had taken a turn for the worse in a wide range of issues.

One woman explained how she was certain that our health services were breaking, with even the hospice having to cut the number of beds available due to staffing shortages.

Dozens of members of the public also filled in a short questionnaire about their voting intentions. It was notable that many voters said they intended to vote differently at the next General Election to the past.

The South Molton event was the first of many over the coming months throughout the Torridge and North Devon parliamentary constituencies held by a new local group called Compass Northern Devon.

The new group aims to reinvigorate democracy in order to bring about fairer election results. It is made up of people from across the political spectrum who share a desire to find better ways to deal with the urgent social, economic and environmental challenges we all face.

Chair of the group and Independent North Devon District Councillor, John Patrinos explained: “We are not a political party, we are part of a campaign to make our politics more transparent and representative of society as a whole.

“We would like to see a fairer voting system based on Proportional Representation (PR), rather than our current first-past-the-post (FPTP) system which all too often produces unrepresentative governments.

“For instance, the last time a UK General Election was won by a party with over half the votes was in 1935, nearly a century ago.”

One of the new group’s founders, Teresa Tinsley, noted: “Our reception on Saturday was very encouraging. People are fed up with politicians who don’t seem to listen to them, who are absent doing their second jobs or simply follow party whips. People want to strengthen our democracy, to make it more open and transparent so that all voices are heard and nobody feels left out of the system.”

The new group is encouraging the political parties to work together at the next election to return local MPs who will support a fair voting system through the introduction of Proportional Representation in the next parliament.

Richard Toller, another founding member of the group explained: “We think that instead of shouting insults at each other, politicians should work together to solve the real problems we all face such as the housing, cost of living crisis and climate crises.

“Most other countries (including Scotland and Wales) use PR for their elections which means that every vote counts. We want to see the same for Westminster elections. At the moment too many people don’t know enough about how the system works and how to get their problems solved.”