Parliamentary Spokesman - Geoffrey Cox
Geoffrey Cox - Conservative PPC for Torridge and West Devon
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Geoffrey lives in West Devon, near Tavistock, with his wife, Jeanie and his family. They have a daughter and two sons. His younger son attends their local village school. Geoffrey was born and brought up in the West Country, is the son of a soldier, (his father was schooled in Tavistock) and his family have been Devonians for generations. His brother is a local solicitor. Geoffrey has been a barrister for nearly 20 years and some years ago cofounded his own barristers' chambers, Thomas More. He has developed a successful career as an advocate, appearing in many well publicised trials. In 2003 he was made a QC (Queens Counsel).
For some years, he has been involved in training young people in public speaking. For the past two years he has championed the campaign of hundreds of widowers, many of whom live in Torridge and West Devon, against the injustice of the government's refusal to allow their wives' national insurance contributions to provide them with a pension and has taken up numerous issues for local people, using his legal knowledge and experience to good effect.
He enjoys reading, walking with his dogs, swimming and taking part in the life of the countryside. He is a member of the NFU. He is a practising member of the Church of England.
His political interests include agriculture, education (particularly special needs provision), defence and legal and constitutional issues.
Geoffrey was selected as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Torridge and West Devon early in 2000. One of the first things Geoffrey declared after his selection was that whatever the result of the election, he wouldn't quit but he would stay and fight for the interests of the people of Torridge and West Devon.
In the next fifteen months, he set about establishing the themes and issues which he would campaign on and fought for them in the General Election of 2001 up and down the length and breadth of the second largest constituency in England. One national commentator later wrote, "This was one of the most closely fought constituencies of 2001". Many local people warmed to his fight because, while elsewhere most Liberal Democrat MPs increased their majorities, the Liberal Democrat's majority was cut by 40% to just 1194 votes and Geoffrey significantly increased the Conservative share of the vote. Only the vote for the UKIP (which still lost its deposit) saved the Liberal Democrat MP from defeat.
In June 2002, with local party membership growing steadily, Geoffrey was overwhelmingly endorsed by local Conservatives to continue as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate and to carry on the work for the causes in which local Conservatives passionately believe.
Working for Torridge and West Devon
For several years, Geoffrey has been campaigning to bring greater attention to the problems of our rural area and advocating the need for consistent policies to help rural communities.
For example, Devon children receive nearly £200 per year less public spending than the national average. No additional allowance is made for the huge cost of travel for the children to get to school. Our Community Colleges are often crowded and lacking resources and there is little or no choice for parents and pupils. Geoffrey is fighting to ensure fairer provision, more choice in local education and the safeguarding and enhancement of village schools.
He opposes the constant attempt to remove services from local town to major centres, which causes real hardship for local people; for that reason he supported the recent successful campaign to prevent a merger of the North Devon and Royal Devon and Exeter Healthcare Trusts and strongly supports our community hospitals.
He is also campaigning against cuts in bus services and for a real rural transport network tailored to the needs of rural people. Geoffrey wants to see new rail links from Okehampton to Exeter and for Tavistock in the light of the planned development in the towns and strongly supports efforts to create a comprehensive regeneration plan for Bideford.
Fighting for Rural Communities
Rural communities are under strain. Foot and Mouth devastated both Farming and Tourism, the twin pillars of our economy and both were already suffering severely from the indifference of government. Geoffrey is fighting for the recognition that the unique life of our rural communities must be supported across a wide spectrum, which includes real backing for our two badly neglected industries.
Protecting the Environment
At the same time, we live in one of the most beautiful environments in the country. Local Conservatives are in the vanguard of preserving this wonderful inheritance. It is threatened constantly from the plans to build insensitively on Greenfield sites and threats to construct huge wind turbines in areas of outstanding beauty to plans to bury thousands of animal carcases last year in a waterlogged clay pit in Meeth and noxious emissions from a rendering plant in Torrington. Geoffrey is actively helping residents to fight these threats and to see that we pass on the stewardship of the countryside and of our small market towns enhanced.