Outgoing Conservative leader of South Hams District Council Cllr Judy Pearce said this week she was sad to see the party lose nine candidates at the local elections.

Mrs Pearce formerly represented Salcombe and Thurlestone but has stepped down from the council.

On May 4 the Conservatives won just seven seats.

She said despite Covid being a major factor she believed the Conservatives had achieved a lot. She said: “We stuck together through thick and thin.

‘’At the start of the term there was a major reorganisation of staff at the council.

‘’We set a corporate strategy for the term.

‘’We achieved a sizeable increase in affordable housing, even though this was a drop in the ocean for what’s needed.

‘’We sorted out problems in the planning department and tided up governance.’

But problems with the waste collections made the council unpopular with the public. After numerous issues with the contractor FCC, especially over missed waste collections, the council decided to take waste and recycling collections back in-house on July 12 2022.’

‘’As far as the waste collection problem is concerned we were tied into a contract and you can’t get out of that quickly,” she added.

Turning to the elections themselves Cllr Pearce said: ‘’I think even if we hadn’t had the waste issue we would have suffered heavy losses.

‘’There has been carnage of Conservative councils around the country.

‘’The timing of the local elections has coincided with difficult times nationally.

‘’If you look at Torbay people were fed up with the Liberal Democrats so the Conservatives won then in Plymouth there were problems including the felling of the trees which meant Labour won.’’

Councillor Pearce believes the greatest pity is the loss of experience: ‘’Many of the incoming councillors are young and lacking in experience.

‘‘I’m very sorry for those who lost their seats.’’