The Liberal Democrat leader of East Devon District Council, Paul Arnott, has been announced as the party's candidate for the Exmouth & Exeter East seat in the general election.

The new constituency was created by last year's boundary changes and includes Exmouth, Lympstone, Topsham, Budleigh Salterton and eastern parts of Exeter. 

The Conservative candidate for the seat is David Reed; so far no other party candidates have yet been announced.

Paul Arnott has been leader of East Devon District Council since May 2020, although he was elected as an Independent. He joined the Liberal Democrats in 2022 and played a key role in the Tiverton & Honiton by-election of that year, which was won by Richard Foord.

Exmouth Journal: Paul Arnott with fellow Lib Dem Richard Foord, MP for Tiverton & Honiton

He currently leads the Democratic Alliance of Liberal Democrat and other councillors who control the district council. 

He said: “It’s a great privilege to be selected to stand to represent this incredible part of Devon.

“This Conservative government has shown repeatedly that it is incapable of delivering for the South West, and for the wider country. The NHS is crumbling; waiting times in A&E and for major procedures are spiralling out of control, while for many even day-to-day dental treatment is no longer available.

"Our coasts and rivers are polluted with sewage while the government lets the water companies off-the-hook and foreign shareholders pocket billpayers’ cash. The cost-of-living crisis makes even daily essentials increasingly unaffordable for many.

“I’m proud of our record at East Devon District Council, where our efforts in poverty reduction have been nationally recognised, the Enterprise Zone project continues to bring new jobs and innovation, and where we are holding South West Water to account for their failures – and all in less than four years since we took control of the administration. For my whole political career, I have worked to make sure our public services – and our public servants – deliver for local people.

“Exmouth & Exeter East needs a genuine local champion. After fifteen years in local politics standing up for residents, I’ve shown I will always put residents first. I look forward to getting out on the doorsteps once again and using my in-depth local experience to campaign for a fairer deal for our area in Parliament.”

The Liberal Democrats' local party president Dr Stuart Mole said: “Paul is an outstanding candidate. As Leader of East Devon District Council, he has championed many important causes across our area and knows the new constituency well.

"More widely, he has a deserved reputation as a campaigner for justice and human rights. In the local elections last May, under his leadership, the Liberal Democrats outpolled the Conservatives and emerged as the clear alternative to the Tories in the parliamentary seat. Paul would make an excellent Member of Parliament and we look forward to introducing him to as many voters as possible in the coming months.”

Paul Arnott is a former correspondent for The Independent and Time Out, and has been a director and producer for the BBC and Channel 4. His published works include ‘Windrush: A Ship Through Time’, exploring the history and struggle of the Windrush migrants.

Having previously lived in Topsham and Exeter, he has been a resident of Colyton for 23 years, and represents the town as a Parish and District Councillor while continuing his production and publishing career.