An outspoken Mary Tavy resident has promised to speak out for everyone as he bids to become a local councillor.

Michael Fife Cook, a retired businessman and charity worker, is a fearless advocate of the underdog.

He is an independent candidate for the West Devon Borough Council North Tavistock ward. The ward became vacant when Independent Pete Squire stood down and is contested by five candidates. The election is on Thursday, May 2.

Michael is married to Ali (an artist) and they ran The Stannary vegetarian restaurant in Mary Tavy for a number of years. They then ran a computer company in Tavistock called Qwerty. One of his proudest previous achievements was producing computers to run software to detect unexploded ordnance such as landmines.

He helped ensure footpaths were accessible and staged village charity events. He advises in forums on the internet and promotes the use of biodiesel.

He is keen to tackle an increase in complaints of intimidation or bullying in public life: “Many people know of me because  I am outspoken. I am always ready to challenge the way things are being done if I can see voters’ interests are not prioritised or are somehow being misled.

“I understand why most people, especially younger voters, are not interested in politics and local government, because it doesn’t seem to be relevant, especially when many older councillors don’t seem to speak for them or understand today’s problems.”

He added: “There’s a lot of poverty in the borough, hence food hubs and a food bank in Tavistock. There’s an imbalance in the demographics with an older richer population.  And this is exacerbated by the shortage of housing which then causes an imbalance in the economy with shops closing or not offering affordable products on the high street.

“I am not afraid to speak out if those in power are not covering the people’s priorities and they might be the mundane, day-to-day minutiae that make a difference to the quality of life of everyone - especially those without a voice.”

The by-election for the Tavistock north ward takes place on Thursday, May 2. There are four canditates: Michael Fife Cook (Independent); Judy Hughes (Conservative); Udo Uwem (Labour); Sara Wood (Green); Holly Greenberry-Pullen (Lib Dem).