Lib Dems take control of South Hams

First time ever district council is Lib Dem run

After the elections on May 4th, 2023, the Liberal Democrats have 19 councillors out of 31 on South Hams District Council. The Greens have 3, Labour 1, Independents 1 and the Conservatives have 7. Your Liberal Democrat councillors, in order of Ward alphabetically, are below:

Laurel Lawford - Allington & Strete

Laurel was educated at Stokenham Primary and Kingsbridge Community College. She now works part-time at the Pigs Nose Inn. As a young mother, Laurel knows at first hand many of the challenges facing young working families in the South Hams.

She understands the struggles with housing and now the cost of living issues and would bring a much-needed voice and experience to the District Council. 

Chris Oram - Bickleigh & Cornwood 

Chris in the Bickleigh parish and works as a self-employed utility consultant, customer service advisor and is currently training as a counsellor with the Devon Counselling College. Listening to people, supporting people and providing people with a service is what he does every day. 

He is passionate about mental health, so alongside his counselling training he has raised money for the Devon Mind charity via sponsored events. He is also a member of the board of trustees at Relate Counselling in Plymouth, helping with the day to day running of the service and planning for the future.

Chris is a keen runner, a bookworm, practises chinese martial arts and can be found hiking on Dartmoor in good weather. 

Contact Chris at:

Simon Rake - Blackawton & Stoke Fleming 

I moved to Blackawton in 1996, having fallen in love with the area whilst at Dartington College a decade or so earlier. Since then I have worked as a freelance translator, and this has been the perfect setting to bring up our two sons, who attended Blackawton Primary and Kingsbridge Community College, whilst also running our small business. From the time I returned to Devon I have been active in the local community, whether writing, directing and appearing in local pantomimes or, for the last few years, chairing the Parish Council.

Simon hopes to increase cooperation between the District Council and local organisations, to make sure the District Council works with and for our vibrant communities. We need to nurture and protect our wonderful natural environment. We must also work hard to boost the supply of genuinely affordable housing, so the South Hams can continue to thrive.

Contact Simon at

Ged Yardy - Dartmouth and East Dart 

Ged works for the NHS in Exeter developing innovative ways to help patients. His aim is to improve access for all to quality healthcare services that are so vital to our local communities.

He is a Dartmouth Town Councillor, and has led on Health and Wellbeing, supporting the new centre at the top of town, and played a leading role in negotations around what happens to the former hospital site. He is a director of the Dartmouth Visitor Centre and an RYA Sailing Instructor, teaching youth sailing on the Dart. He is married with two children and lives in Dartmouth.

Contact Ged at:

Alison DeWynter - Ermington & Ugborough

I have had a house in the South Hams for 12 years but because of my career in the Royal Navy, I have been away for part of this time. Since leaving the Royal Navy in 2021, I have been working at Plymouth University and as a locum GP.  Before training to become a doctor, I worked as a full time teacher, teaching GCSE and A level biology.  
My children both attend Ivybridge Community College and are members of various sports clubs in the South Hams and Plymouth. We are a foster family too, and currently have a three-year-old living with us, who attends a local pre-school. 
I want to help drive the Green Agenda.  I wish every decision made on the council to have considered and minimised its environmental impact.  I also want to support the provision of genuinely affordable housing. 

Contact Alison at:

Victor Abbot - Ivybridge East 

Victor lives in Ivybridge, which has been his home for 30 years. He lived in Ireland for 10 years during which time he worked offshore, making charts and supporting the exploration industry. He has worked in Ireland and the North Sea countries. On moving to Ivybridge he taught hydrographic surveying at Plymouth University. Victor has been retired for a couple of years, giving him the opportunity to work on local interests which include local history. He is part of local self-study groups in other subjects, and has time for his family, in Ivybridge, around Britain, and in Ireland.
"I would like to see local government funding restored, more housing and a representative electoral system. I am pleased to represent the Liberal Democrats because of their inclusiveness and internationalism."
Contact Victor at:

Victor Abbott

Matt Steele - Ivybridge East

Matt Steele has lived in Ivybridge since 2020, having grown up in Exeter and then living in Hong Kong for 25 years. He owns The Ivybridge Bookshop and chairs the Ivybridge Chamber of Commerce.

In 2022 Matt led a campaign to keep Ivybridge's car parks open and save a centuries-old Devon bank and oak tree, working with Liberal Democrat District Councillors to prevent a flawed redevelopment plan going ahead. He is a strong believer in serving and listening to the community, common sense and accountability.

Contact Matt at:

Nadine Dommett - Ivybridge West

Nadine grew up and lives in Ivybridge and manages Hettie’s Coffee shop in the town. She has lived and worked in many countries, but Ivybridge feels like home. She is currently building Makers Mews in the town, a venue providing support and co-working space for creative businesses, hosting making, repairing and sharing workshops. 

Nadine also acts as a host for Young Devon, is a member of the Ivybridge Chamber of Commerce and a trustee of the PL:21 charity, a transition town initiative to combat climate change. 

She would like to see Ivybridge celebrate its riverside location and help build its identity beyond being a commuter town. She would like to embark on a town beautification project; making sure the performance area is properly maintained and having branches cut back so the ‘ivy bridge’ can be seen!

Contact Nadine at:

Pablo Munoz - Ivybridge West 

Pablo is originally from Spain, and has lived in the UK since 1988. He's called Ivybridge home for 15 years. He is an active member of the community and owns a small vintage Gothic and Victorian clothing business based in the town.

Pablo is passionate about making a real difference to the lives of local people. His priorities are to listen empathetically to residents, understand issues of concern and to do his part to act in the best interests of all sections of this wonderful community.

Contact Pablo at

Susie Jackson - Kingsbridge 

Susie has lived and worked in Devon for 40 years, 14 of those in the South Hams. She works as an Occupational Therapist at Torbay Hospital and her role with the NHS has made her aware of the lack of affordable housing in the area.
"I hope to meet many of you over the next few years. I will listen carefully to what is important to you. I passionately believe in the power of local communities and I want to help create thriving, sustainable and safe towns to live in. I will work hard to promote a culture of openness and transparency, ending the Conservative 'closed shop' approach."
Contact Susie at:

Denise O'Callaghan - Kingsbridge 

Denise previously served as a Liberal Democrat district councillor in Kingsbridge from 2007 to 2011, and really enjoyed representing local people and highlighting their concerns. She lives in the town and has two daughters, one of whom is still a pupil at Kingsbridge Community College. Denise's background is in journalism, both at a local and a national level.
"One of the most pressing needs in the South Hams, with the stark contrast between high house prices and low wages, is for more genuinely affordable homes. There should be an obligation for private housing developments to have a percentage of such homes. Another of my priorities is lobbying to close the loophole which enables some of the second home owners in the district to avoid paying council tax on holiday homes. I believe that car parking charges in our town centres are too high, and need to be cut to attract more shoppers to support local businesses."
Contact Denise at:

Lee Bonham - Loddiswell & Aveton Gifford

I am delighted to be the candidate for Loddiswell, Aveton Gifford, Churchstow and Woodleigh parishes for SHDC. I will listen and represent your views, so that the council works for you. I have been a college lecturer, researcher and manager in technology firms. More recently I have helped run several charities and community organisations. I live in Kingsbridge and I love open-water swimming, playing tennis and walking in the countryside.

The South Hams is a very special place and needs to be protected. I have argued strongly against inappropriate housing developments in the region and pushed the council to take action. I want the South Hams to have the best environment possible for people and for nature, and I will do my best to achieve that.

Contact Lee at:

Tom Edie - Newton & Yealmpton

Tom lives in Noss Mayo with his wife and two young children. For the last few years, he has been chair of the PTFA at the village primary school and fundraiser for the River Yealm Regatta.

A lover of cycling, you’ll also find Tom gig rowing or out enjoying the South Hams countryside with his family. Tom is keen to continue supporting community projects around enterprise, health and wellbeing.

Contact Tom at:

Dan Thomas - Newton & Yealmpton 

Dan is originally from Plymouth and has lived largely in Yealmpton for the last 37 years. He is both a District and a County Councillor for the local area.

He spent 10 years working for Plymouth Argyle in Hospitality and Operations Management before becoming the club's General Manager. He retrained as a primary teacher in 2011 and for the last 4 years has taught at Newton Ferrers C of E Primary.

Dan is a keen 'Am Drammer' and has been actively involved with the Ermington Players for the past 20 years. He is Chair of Yealmpton Parish Council and believes passionately in the importance of local people being actively involved in local politics. Dan is married to Tina and has three young children.

Contact Dan at:

Lib Dem logo bird projected on blockwork

David Hancock - South Brent

Dr David Hancock has lived in South Brent since 2019 and is a researcher and project evaluator at the University of Exeter, working in the area of employment and skills in the local economy. He has previously completed research in the health sector. Two of his children attend South Brent Primary School and he has been a Parish Councillor in South Brent since 2020. Professionally, he understands how to judge the success of public sector projects, including their value for money, and will bring these skills into decisions at South Hams District council.

In his work as a Parish Councillor he has focused his attention on the how the community can become more sustainable in light of the climate crisis and he will continue in this work if elected. This includes protecting our environment, reducing our carbon footprint, making our homes more efficient, but also ensuring that we have the skills to achieve these ambitions and develop the local economy.  David believes that council services should be delivered by locally based organisations to ensure that our communities develop sustainably.
Contact David at:

Guy Pannell - South Brent 

Guy is a retired television journalist and university lecturer. He is an active volunteer with the National Trust and the South Devon Railway. He is Chair of the Brent Island Trust and is a member of Brent Singers and the parish church choir. He also enjoys walking and gardening.
Contact Guy at

Julian Brazil - Stokenham 

Julian lives in East Prawle, Kingsbridge. He is both a District and a County Councillor for the local area. He has an honours degree in Zoology from Bristol University and is a former science teacher. Julian has an excellent reputation as a local councillor.

He is well known for campaigning and supporting his local communities. He is a vociferous supporter of genuinely affordable housing for local people. His main areas of interest are health, education and the environment.

He is former captain of the East Prawle cricket team and plays darts and euchre for the Pigs Nose Inn.
Contact Julian at:

Totnes Ward

John Birch lives in Totnes with his wife Lynne and has done so since 1999. Before that he lived in Wiltshire and served on the North Wiltshire District Council as deputy leader of the Council. Until recently he was a consultant solicitor specialising in construction. He is project leader for the £4 million project to restore and renovate St Mary's Church in Totnes and chair of the recently formed St Mary's Totnes Heritage Trust, whose aims include raising funds for heritage and conservation projects in Totnes. He has been successful in obtaining NLHF funding for this important Totnes project as well as raising local funding.

John is constantly making Totnes's voice heard within the council chamber and offices at South Hams District Council.  He is involved in several local campaigns including that to save the boatyard at Baltic Wharf on the river Dart in Totnes, as well as supporting the campaign to bring about the ATMOS project on the former Dairy Crest site.
Contact John at:

John McKay - West Dart

John is a semi retired IT Consultant who lives in Harbertonford. He has served on several steering committees as a technology advisor and has spent several years as a volunteer for the Samaritans. He is presently a volunteer for Citizens Advice. John is a great supporter of his local community and is working to save the village shop and Post Office in Harbertonford from closure.
"For many years now, I have been campaigning for better local democracy, better development planning and environmental policies. I believe I have been successful in challenging some damaging developments and bringing about some change."
Contact John at:

Cllr John McKay

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