THE Labour Party has announced its Central Devon candidate for the upcoming general election. 

Former Exeter city councillor Ollie Pearson said it is a “privilege” to have been selected and that “only Labour can beat the Tories” in Central Devon. 

“I’ve lived and worked in Devon for over 20 years,” he said. 

“I know that our communities deserve better than the past 14 years of Tory decline. 

“People across Devon and the whole UK have seen the biggest fall in living standards in a generation under this Tory government, while facing the highest taxes in 70 years.   

“It’s time to get Britain’s future back. Together we can change Central Devon.  

“Only Labour can beat the Tories here and make sure that change happens.” 

Labour have come second in the last two general elections in Central Devon.  

If Mr Pearson wants to turn the constituency red, he will have to unseat Conservative Mel Stride, which could prove a significant challenge. 

Mr Stride became the area’s MP in 2010 and won over 55 per cent of the vote in the last general election in 2019 with a large majority of 17,721. 

YouGov has predicted in its latest poll that the party will come close to winning the seat this time, with 30 per cent of the vote for Labour and 33 per cent for the Conservatives. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has described the upcoming election as a “chance to change Central Devon”. 

He said: “Over the course of the last four years, we have changed the Labour Party and returned it once more to the service of working people. 

“All we ask now, humbly, is to do exactly the same for our country and return Britain to the service of working people.  

“A vote for Labour is a vote for economic and political stability, an end to Conservative chaos, and a long-term plan to rebuild Britain.” 

The Central Devon Labour Party said it is “delighted” to have Mr Pearson as its candidate.  

“The next six weeks are crucial for the country as we seek to get rid of this chaotic Tory government.

“Every vote counts in Central Devon and don't forget – only Labour can defeat the Tories here.  

“Vote for change. Vote for Ollie.” 

Mr Pearson‘s priorities for the local area include restoring economic stability and bringing down mortgage, energy and cost-of-living costs; tackling sewage dumping by putting South West Water under special measures; making sure all communities have access to an NHS dentist and can get a GP’s appointment within good time; tackling climate change with “a range of practical steps”; and supporting schools including increasing recruitment of new teachers. 

The other candidates for Central Devon are Conservative Mel Stride, Mark Wooding for the Liberal Democrats, Gill Westcott for the Green Party and Jeffrey Leeks for Reform UK. 

The seat, which includes Crediton, Okehampton and Ashburton, will see its boundaries changed slightly at the next election.