The Conservative election hopeful for the newly formed Exmouth and Exeter East constituency, David Reed, says he takes “nothing for granted” and is “going to have to work extremely hard” to win at the general election.

The new seat contains much of the previous East Devon one, including Exmouth, Lympstone, Topsham and Budleigh Salterton, but will also have eastern parts of Exeter such as Pinhoe. 

East Devon has always been Conservative, whilst Exeter has been in Labour’s hands since Tony Blair first came to power in 1997. 

A former Royal Marine, Mr Reed was born in Carshalton in the London borough of Sutton and now lives in the Broadclyst area. 

He said: “St Loyes and Topsham have been Conservative for long periods of time. 

“Pinhoe probably had more of an identity within the city but there are still lots of Conservatives, or people that are aligned with the Conservative party, in that ward as well. 

“I take nothing for granted. I am going to have to work extremely hard. I have to actually demonstrate and prove to people in the constituency that I’m up for the job.  

“That means going out, knocking on lots of doors, speaking to people, going to local events. 

“Since being selected in July, that has been my main thing, to go out and listen first of all, before creating any policies, go out and listen to what the main issues are.”  

A former wingsuit jumper, the 34-year-old currently works for defence firm BAE Systems and is getting married next summer. 

Asked about his relative political inexperience, he said: “I would like to think that I’ve actually packed a lot into my life so far.  

“I’ve been very close to central government policy for a long time, and I’ve been on the sharp end of delivering that policy, either through the military or in other jobs that I’ve done, or in the defence industry.  

“I’m coming in knowing how the state works, understanding how to bid for central government money, how to write an effective bid, which is very, very important, and then how to actually work with relevant authorities to actually get on the job and actually deliver those things. 

“It takes a long time to see how that puzzle fits together, but I come good to go.” 

Exmouth Journal: The new ward will contain parts of Exeter.The new ward will contain parts of Exeter. (Image: Boundary Commission/Google Maps)

Mr Reed describes himself as ‘centre-right.’

On being a Conservative, he said: “It comes down to values. 

“A big part of why I’m a Conservative now is the Labour education policy.

“I remember being in secondary school and that policy being brought out. They wanted 50 per cent of school leavers to go to university.  

“Now that policy sounds fantastic and obviously everyone wants more education. But it’s not realistic. 

“When I look at the Conservative government, it’s based less on ideology and idealism and more on being a pragmatic person that can deliver.  

“Looking back to when the first Conservative government came in 2010, that came out with everything that David Cameron was saying, that yes, we can’t promise everything.

“It’s after the financial crash. We need to sort out our finances. We need to make some tough decisions.  

“That, for me, was responsible, pragmatic governance. That turned me on a lot more to the idea of the Conservative Party.  

“I would definitely put myself in the centre-right camp. But at the same time, there are some policies that you need to be slightly more right-wing on, and there are policies that you maybe need to be slightly more left-wing on.  

“I would never entrench myself in an ideology that didn’t give me room to manoeuvre.” 

Three key issues he will address if elected are reducing sewage spills, improving social care access and promoting apprenticeships. 

He said: “I want to see first of all a reduction in unnecessary sewage outflows.  

“I want to see better monitoring, putting a number of sensors in all of the different infrastructure so they can see where blockages are, see where issues are, with storm overflows. 

“I’ve started the process already now of going out and surveying across the constituency to build up enough support so that we can put the appropriate amount of pressure on South West Water.  

“I’ve met with them already, I will be meeting them again. I want to have a collaborative relationship with them.  If we put too much pressure on South West Water and they end up folding all of that debt will go onto the taxpayer. I do not want that to happen.  

“But at the same time, we need to let South West Water know that we are really not happy about this. I want there to be far better visibility for what social care is out there in the constituency.  

“That’s something that can be done with Devon County Council in partnership with the NHS and with local private providers as well. 

“I’ve been going out to a number of different care homes to understand how their model works. I’m going to meet with the Devon County Council cabinet member for social care… and I want to start fleshing this out more and more to see what we can do locally. 

“The vast majority of jobs are becoming digitised now. There is a coming wave starting in our jobs market with these new technologies coming into companies, companies automating.  

“There is going to be a significant requirement for people both in the constituency and nationally to potentially have to retrain at some point in their career.  

“I want to normalise… that apprenticeship schemes are a good path to go down, whether that be vocational apprenticeship schemes or degree apprenticeship schemes.  

“It allows companies, the private sector, to invest in their people, and it creates a much better connection so that people can actually learn on their job, but also have the opportunity once they’re qualified to save a lot more and then buy into things like housing, have a family, which I think the Labour [education] policy has eroded. 

“We need to go back to those core Conservative values, if you work hard, then all of these things will be open to you. That’s the way it should be.” 

A general election is expected to be called next year, and must be held by the end of January 2025. No other candidates have yet been announced for Exmouth and Exeter East.