PRIME Minister Rishi Sunak fired the starting gun on Wednesday (May 22) for a new General Election and for many voters across the area it will be a new experience as they find themselves in a new constituency.

Electoral Commission boundary changes will apply for the first time, with the two local constituencies now ‘Taunton and Wellington’ and ‘Tiverton and Minehead’.

The Tiverton and Minehead seat will be contested by current West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger for the Conservatives, Mid Devon councillor Rachel Gilmour for the Liberal Democrats, Labour’s Jonathan Barter, Reform UK’s Fred Keen, and Laura Buchanan for the Green Party.

Taunton and Minehead will be a battle between Conservative MP Rebecca Pow, Liberal Democrat candidate Gideon Amos, Reform UK’s Charles Hansard, the Green Party’s Ryan Trower, and a yet to be named Labour candidate.

Mr Liddell-Grainger said he was a champion of the rural way of life and wanted to continue to ensure the voice of the countryside was heard in Westminster.

He said: “I come from a farming background and am only too keenly aware of the challenges that continue to face British agriculture, upon whose fortunes depends the health of the wider rural economy.

“I have been one of the most outspoken critics of the appallingly slow pace at which high-speed broadband and mobile communications are being rolled out into rural areas.”

Ms Gilmour was delighted ‘often-ignored communities’ had ‘finally been granted their wish for a General Election’.

She said: “In recent months I have visited over 20,000 homes in almost every town, village, and hamlet across Tiverton and Minehead.

“The support people have shown me has been humbling, and the issues I have picked up have reaffirmed to me the reason I am challenging here.”

Mr Amos, who has twice previously lost in his constituency, said he was campaigning to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, the NHS crisis, and the sewage scandal.

He said Liberal Democrats were on the up nationally after beating Conservatives at the May local elections and winning four Parliamentary by-election victories since the last General Election.

Mr Amos said: “Local health services have been brought to their knees despite amazing NHS staff, they are working in buildings at Musgrove that let the rain in, people’s mortgages and rent have skyrocketed, and water companies have been allowed to pump their filthy sewage into our rivers and beaches.”

Ms Pow said: “The last nine years serving as Member of Parliament where I live and where I have brought up my family have been the biggest privilege of my life.

“I have worked determinedly to deliver on a wide-range of areas including seeing the £87 million surgical centre being built, restoring the Wellington Monument, upgrading Taunton Rail station and hugely progressing a Wellington Rail Station.

“In simple terms the choice is clear, stick with the plan by choosing bold action for a safer, more secure, and more prosperous future with Rishi Sunak, or go back to square one with Ed Davey, Keir Starmer, and the same old Labour.”