I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy New Year. I spent Christmas visiting family in various parts of Devon and before I returned home to Sidmouth. However you chose to celebrate Christmas, I hope you had an enjoyable time.

In the run up to Christmas, I was delighted to confirm that Sidmouth’s new banking hub will be located in the former Joules store. I’d certainly like to see other banking hubs open across our part of Devon, too, so I’ll continue to explore all options for our towns.

Another good story in the run up to Christmas was the welcome news that the government has, as expected, made local housing targets “advisory”. There is no truly objective way to calculate how many homes are needed in an area and, since becoming an MP in 2019, I’ve repeatedly told Ministers that East Devon’s housing figures were the product of fanciful Whitehall algorithms.

A year ago, I publicly urged the Lib Dem-led East Devon District Council to rethink their draft Local Plan. Councillors pressed on. And, earlier this month, councillors jumped the gun to sign-off on a new town of 8,000 homes in our district, when Cranbrook isn’t even finished yet.

We must build new homes. But new homes must compliment areas, not concrete over countryside. New homes should only be built with proper guarantees of infrastructure to go with them. It feels like common sense!

It is looking like there will be a general election sometime next year. As regular readers will know, I will be standing for the new constituency of Honiton and Sidmouth, where I live. Constituency boundaries have been redrawn by the independent Boundary Commission and I’m out and about every week talking to residents.

David Reed will be the Conservative candidate for the new Exmouth and Exeter East constituency. David is a former Royal Marine with strong family links to our area. David will be brilliant. We’ll make a strong team for our area. We’re not taking a single vote for granted.