Rail link improvements are set to benefit voters in the new Honiton and Sidmouth constituency

Town rail link improvements set to benefit voters in the new Honiton and Sidmouth constituency have prompted two MPs to declare they influenced the decision.

Two Devon MPs, who will be battling for the same seat in the next general election, have both claimed victory in the campaign to get the railway station reopened at Cullompton, writes local democracy reporter Alison Stephenson.

Simon Jupp, Conservative MP for East Devon and Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton and Honiton Richard Foord say they have both championed the cause in parliament for a direct rail link from the expanding town to London Paddington.

Honiton

Liberal Democrat MP for Tiverton and Honiton Richard Foord with Mid Devon District Lib Dem councillors Cllr Lloyd Knight (Cullompton Padbrook Ward), Cllr Sue Robinson (Cullompton Padbrook Ward) and Cllr Emma Buczkowksi (Cullompton St Andrews Ward). Photo: with permission.

Honiton

Conservative MP for East Devon Simon Jupp and Rail Minister Huw Merriman.
Photo: with permission.

Last week the Tories announced they are abandoning plans for the northern section of the HS2 rail project  to focus on transport improvements across the country, and Devon is getting some funds to boost infrastructure.

Stations will reopen at Cullompton, Wellington and Tavistock 60 years after they were closed during the Beeching cuts.

It’s going to be all-change for Cullompton at the general election. In future, the town will fall under the new Honiton and Sidmouth constituency because of a boundary shake up which will see the abolition of Mr Foord’s Tiverton and Honiton seat, and Mr Jupp’s East Devon area.

They will go head-to-head to become the MP for Honiton and Sidmouth. Hence the battle to take credit for improvements in Cullompton.

Welcoming the HS2 announcement, Mr Jupp, who as parliamentary private secretary in the Department for Transport is a member of the government, said he had campaigned to improve connectivity and economic opportunity across the area by introducing a direct rail link between Cullompton and London.

He said his campaign included meetings with the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, and two people in the department he works in, transport secretary Mark Harper and rail minister Huw Merriman.

“I warmly welcome the fantastic news that under this Conservative government, Cullompton will get its own dedicated train station,” he said.

“I recently conducted a transport survey in and around the town and I’m delighted we are delivering what local residents want. By improving the link to London Paddington and Exeter, we can boost our local economy whilst better connecting our communities.”

For his part, Mr Foord said he built on the work of former Conservative MP for Tiverton and Honiton Neil Parish by co-chairing the board that brings together Network Rail, Great Western Rail, and Mid Devon District Council.

He wrote: “I have been pleased to champion the cause in parliament and I am delighted that it seems the government in Westminster has given way under the pressure of local campaigners.  I would like to thank those people who did not give up on the project – including those from Cullompton Town Council, who have been very invested in it.”

Mid Devon District Council ‘s cabinet member for planning and economic regeneration Cllr Steven Keable (Lib Dem, Taw Vale) said it is important work on the new station begins quickly.

“This significant jigsaw piece for the future of Cullompton can happen in 2025 and we now urge the government to formally confirm funding and get spades in the ground. This announcement rewards the local community for their hard work over a number of years.”

He continued: “Without this suite of planned interventions, the Culm Garden Village, to the east of the M5, will not be able to provide the planned local new homes and extensive community facilities, nor will Cullompton see the levelling up opportunities pledged by the government.”

A total £6.5 billion from the HS2 savings of £36 billion will come to the south west. In Devon the mainline rail route will be made more robust at Dawlish and money will be spent on new road schemes and road resurfacing.

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