The Conservatives have kept control of Devon County Council for an historic fourth term and have pledged to do everything they can to drive the county’s economic recovery.
The party won 39 of the 60 seats that were up for election on Thursday. The Liberal Democrats took nine, Labour seven, Independents three and Greens two.
It’s the fourth election in succession that Conservative leader John Hart has seen his party win an overall majority.
He said: “I’m very grateful to everyone who voted – no matter which party they chose – in difficult circumstances.
“We shall continue to govern in Devon for the benefit of the county as a whole and for all our residents.
“They’ve shown great resilience over the past year in ensuring we’ve had some of the lowest Covid infection figures throughout the pandemic.
“But now, with the success of the vaccination programme and the Bank of England’s optimistic forecast for the national economy, we have got to focus on regenerating the Devon economy and driving the strongest possible recovery.
“We mean to get back to work immediately for the benefit of everyone in the county. We have ambitious plans for a cleaner, Greener Devon with a thriving economy. We can’t create jobs but we can provide the right climate for business to create jobs.
“We invested £4 million in the Future Skills Centre at Exeter Airport to help train our young people – and anyone else wanting to change career or re-skill – so that they can find good, well-paid jobs in the careers of the future.
“We are working closely with South Hams District and Plymouth City councils on the new Plymouth and South Devon Freeport.
“We’ve supported work hubs where small businesses or start-ups can hire office space and equipment. There are currently 15 across the county and we’re planning at least seven more.
“Over the next two years, we’ve set aside £6.2 million to provide support to help businesses regenerate and our economy recover.
“We are supporting tourism, hospitality and local producers as our economy continues to re-open. We’ve launched a major Made in Devon marketing campaign to support and promote county businesses to local people and visitors alike.
“This is already supporting food producers and agriculture and will back tourism and hospitality as the restrictions are lifted.
“We are backing the roll-out of fast broadband for rural Devon. An £80 million pound programme is under way in Devon and Somerset which will help to halt the digital divide between rural and urban communities in our county.
“We’re now working on major improvements to the North Devon link road, work’s starting on the facilities to allow passenger rail services from Okehampton to Exeter to re-start and we’re beginning work on the new rail station at Marsh Barton to serve the industrial estate there from both Teignbridge and East Devon.
“And we are very mindful that we have to do all this and get the recovery going whilst keeping our promise to reduce carbon emissions.
“Across the county council, we’ve cut our carbon footprint by almost half and we’re on target to become net-zero carbon by 2030.
“We will continue to invest in LED lighting on our streetlights. That both saves money but also cuts our carbon emissions.
“There will be more charging points for electric cars, solar panels on the roofs of our buildings and we are looking for more land to plant trees to offset our carbon footprint.
“There’s a lot to do as we recover from the pandemic and I can’t wait to get back to work.”