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Welcome to Torridge and West Devon.
The beautiful hills, valleys, coastlines and moorland of the west of Devon makes up the second largest constituency in England in terms of geographical size. The constituency stretches from Bideford along the North Devon coast to Hartland, and in the south from Chagford across Dartmoor to Tavistock and the Bere Peninsula aside the Tamar Valley. The constituency contains a large part of Dartmoor and is mostly made up of market towns such as Okehampton, Holsworthy, Great Torrington and Hatherleigh, as well as the aforementioned Stannary Town of Tavistock and the ‘Little White Town’ of Bideford, which nestles on the banks of the River Torridge near Northam and the romantically named village of Westward Ho!.
Sir Peter Mills MP - the highly respected former Conservative MP for Torridge & West Devon
Politics in both Torridge and West Devon has always been a competitive affair, with Conservatives and Liberals vying for popularity. Past MPs for the area include Lord John Russell, a reforming Victorian Prime Minister, Michael Heseltine, Jeremy Thorpe served Bideford, and for a brief while Mark Bonham Carter scored an early by-election victory for the Liberals in the old Torrington constituency before being unseated at the next election by Percy Brown for the Conservatives. Conservative Sir Peter Mills is remembered with great affection for his qualities of being an honest, hardworking local MP, whilst turncoat Baroness Nicholson became notorious for her defection from Conservative to Liberal Democrat. Currently the seat is held by Lib Dem John Burnett, who saw his majority cut as the Conservatives led by Geoffrey Cox increased their share of the vote to narrow the gap. Expect a close contest next time, particulatly as John Burnett is retiring and the Lib Dems have picked an unknown novice candidate from London.
This is a rural constituency with rural issues. Population sparsity works against fair funding for local services, which are consistently under funded by the Labour government on a per-capita basis in comparison with the national average or particularly Labour dominated areas. The on-going depression in Agriculture, most recently aggravated by Foot and Mouth, continues to alter the face of the local communities and means less reliance on the traditional means of earning a living, whilst more and more people look towards Barnstaple, Exeter and Plymouth for a job.
Despite the poor treatment by the Labour government, the quality of life in the constituency would be considered by many to be good. There is less crime and unemployment than in many areas, and the people are traditionally welcoming and friendly. There are a great many interesting and enjoyable places to visit and the rat race can be left far behind as you walk across the Moor, stroll on a magnificent sandy Beach or enjoy a Devonshire Tea with Clotted Cream!