Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Saturday, 25 July 2009 15:10 UK

Hundreds hear from Tory hopefuls

Anthony Steen
Anthony Steen announced in May he would stand down at the election

Hundreds of people have turned out for a historic hustings in South Devon.

In the first UK process of its kind, voters in Totnes can choose the Tories' candidate for the next election.

About 300 people were at Torbay Leisure Centre to hear from the three people bidding to stand for the Conservatives in Anthony Steen's seat.

Chagford GP Dr Sarah Wollaston, East Devon District Council leader Sara Randall-Johnson and Torbay Mayor Nick Bye were all allotted 30 minutes each.

Political commentator and former MP Matthew Parris chaired the event.

According to the Conservative Party, it is the first "open primary" contest held by a British political party.

The decision was made after Totnes MP Anthony Steen said he would stand down at the next election after reports of his expenses were made public by the Daily Telegraph.

Ballot papers have been sent to all 69,000 voters in Totnes.

Mr Steen's successor will be announced on 30 July.

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