Exeter’s MP of 26 years is stepping down at the next election, but before he departs he tells us what he loves most about his home county.

Tell us briefly about yourself and what you do in the county.

I’m the Labour Member of Parliament for Exeter and have been since 1997. My job is to represent the interests of Exeter in Parliament and to help my constituents, in so far as I can, with any problems or issues they may be having. Also, to have a view to the interests of the wider region.

Where in Devon do you live?

I live on the Quay in Exeter right in the city centre, with a wonderful view over and down the Exe to the cathedral and within cycling and walking distance of the city centre and the railway station. I’m living the green dream!

How long have you been here and what brought you here?

I first moved to live in Exeter in 1984 when I gained a trainee journalist place on the Express and Echo in Exeter. I knew Devon before that because my parents met in the 1930s on holiday in the South Hams and we’d always come to Devon on family holidays. And my father had retired to Devon; I wanted to try and find a trainee journalist job fairly near him.

What’s the best thing about living in Devon?

We have the best climate in the British Isles. Exeter is a fantastic growing, thriving, historic provincial city within easy reach of our beautiful natural environment of Dartmoor and the coast. The people of Exeter are very friendly in my experience, and very generous, and it’s a very easy city to live in, and in an environmentally sustainable way, thanks to the good network of cycle paths and the e-bike and the Co Cars electric car sharing schemes. I can’t think of anywhere else where it would be easier to live a carbon neutral lifestyle.

And the worst?

I can’t think of any negatives to be honest. It would always be nice to have a richer and more varied cultural offer, but it’s difficult to sustain financially without significant support from government and in recent years government funding for anything, let alone the arts and culture, has been in freefall.

Describe your ideal day out in Devon.

A good long walk on Dartmoor or on the South Devon or Jurassic coastal path, including a wild swim followed by supper, preferably cooked at home with friends.

What is your favourite Devon journey, by any mode of transport?

Walking the cliff path between Prawle Point and Salcombe, closely followed by cycling from Exeter to Budleigh Salterton and back on the Exe Valley Cycle Route and then the old railway line between Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton.

What is your favourite view in the county?

It’s the one out of my kitchen window over the Exeter boatyard canal and down the river towards Countess Weir. It’s a view that I valued so much during the Covid lockdown - just to be able to look at that view and enjoy that quality of light when one was spending so much time indoors made it particularly precious to me.

What is your favourite month to be in Devon?

It would be the second half of May and first half of June. You have the best of the wild flowers but you’ve got a reasonable chance of warmer weather.

What gift from Devon would you give to a friend?

A crate of real Devon cider.

What three words best describe Devon?

Beautiful. Green. Friendly.