The main drama of the West Devon election count today (Fri 3.5.19) was in the ward next door to Horrabridge, but a backlash against existing management, nationally and locally, took its toll of Conservative power in Tavistock too and left the party barely hanging on to its majority and looking for a new local leader.

An early result, for Buckland Monachorum, set the pattern. One of the two previous councillors for the ward, former navy officer Ric Cheadle, was re-elected, as an Independent. But Philip Sanders, leader of the Conservative group and leader of the council, lost to a Green Party candidate –  nurse and Buckland parish councillor Lucy Wood.

Mr Sanders, a Devon county councillor and a leading Devon Conservative, saw the result coming as the vote papers were piled up and said with a shrug: “What will be will be.” And after congratulating the councillor who took his place, he left the count. He had another one to face, later, for Tavistock Town Council, where he was also being challenged.

He blamed the reaction against him on the government’s failure to deliver on Brexit. But other Conservatives said his own part in an attempt to encourage more big catering chains into Tavistock and Okehampton – in the name of economic development – was also a doorstep issue.

A bad reaction to the plan to give a prime site in Tavistock to Premier Inns, or some similar hotelier, united a new wave of council candidates under a Tavistock Independent banner and they did well and knocked out a couple of sitting Conservatives in the three main Tavistock wards.

In Tavistock North, taking in most places on the town side of the river, Conservative councillor John Sheldon was deposed and sitting Independent Jeff Moody was joined by two new Independents – Andy Coulson and Steve Hipsey.

In Tavistock South East, taking in Whitchurch and roads to the moor, leading Conservative Debo Sellis held her seat but lost a colleague, Robert Oxborough, to a challenge from hospital worker James Spettigue, another of the Tavistock Independents.

In Tavistock South West, which is mainly housing on either side of the A386 road to Plymouth, new Independents Adam Bridgewater and Mandy Ewings stormed home well ahead of the candidates trying to defend two Conservative places.

For Dartmoor ward, previously represented by a Conservative, the new councillor is another Independent, Mark Renders, who runs the post office and shop a Princetown.

However, the old Independent group lost a few places to Greens and Lib Dems as well as one to the Tories.

Overall turn-out was 43 percent of those entitled to vote, which was seen as a surprisingly high level of interest in view of the national situation. A good handful of papers in each ward were spoiled by Brexit-related protests.

Before the voting on Friday, West Devon Borough Council had 21 Conservatives and 10 Independents. One Independent, Christopher Edmonds of Tamarside ward, got re-elected in spite of rebranding as a Conservative. But overall, after today’s count, the Conservatives are left with a group of 16 against 11 Independents, 2 Greens and 2 Liberal Democrats.

Labour, which has been re-organising in Tavistock for the past three years, raised candidates for 28 of the 31 seats and scored some reasonable votes but no wins.

There was no election in Burrator Ward, covering Horrabridge, because only two candidates stood for the two places and Diana Moyse, Conservative, and Tim Bolton, Liberal Democrat, were elected unopposed.

Horrabridge Parish Council was also a no-contest election, in which volunteers filled eight out of 12 available places.


Funfair in Tavistock Meadows for weekend and Monday. Peterloo at Meavy Cinema tonight (Friday). Black Panther at Yelverton Cinema tomorrow (Saturday). The Kingstons, local reggae band, at the Leaping Salmon on Sunday. The Horrabridge Community Association meets at the school on Wednesday from 7 pm. More in print-out from our calendar below.

To get more detail or look further ahead, find the calendar


and for local event posters, roadworks info, Cartoon Of The Week and more, check our Postboard page



Last week, we promised a report on a meeting at Bridestowe, organised by South West Riders, about a campaign to fill in the map of off-road rights of way before it is too late to lay a claim to old ones which are in danger of being lost.

We attended the meeting but the report has been held for next week.

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Editor of The Horrabridge Times.