Row over Hugo Swire's Seaton joke

EAST Devon parliamentary candidate Hugo Swire has outraged Seaton residents after he mocked the town.

EAST Devon parliamentary candidate Hugo Swire has outraged Seaton residents after he mocked the town.

The Conservative, who no longer represents Seaton, negatively compared the town to Sidmouth during a meeting last week.

But Seaton residents have hit back - saying he could have served the town better during his term there.

Mr Swire said during a Sidmouth Chamber of Commerce meeting: "Sidmouth is the only unspoilt regency town in Britain. I would not say the same about Seaton now that I'm not there."

His comments were met with laughter.

Speaking as a resident, the chairman of Seaton town council, Sandra Semple, said: "It's a pity that during the time that Hugo Swire was the MP for Seaton, he wasn't able to do anything at all that changed that situation.

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"It might have helped if he had been seen more in the town and had made an attempt to understand its problems more deeply. I find his remarks vote catching and I wonder what he would have said if Seaton had still been his constituency. We just have to hope that the new MP shows a more sensitive approach to the town and its problems."

She added that the town could not compete with Sidmouth, a regency town, but described Seaton as an unspoilt Victorian town.

Marcus Hartnell, Seaton Chamber of Commerce chairman and a trader in the town, said: "His comments could be taken as quite offensive.

"We don't need comments like that when groups - such as the chamber, town council and Seaton's Voice - are working in a positive way to put Seaton on the map."

Mr Swire said it was an aside at a breakfast meeting and that his comments had been misconstrued.

He said: "I was comparing it with the frustration of trying to get anything done in Seaton and I have been constantly frustrated by various groups."

He added that he also believed the planned Tesco development, although not popular with everybody, would benefit the town. He said: "On the back of this, Seaton should be able to attract other developments, which it desperately needs. Otherwise Seaton won't have any development again.