Jim Parker: First impressions and our local communities count - is this what we want people to see?

Torbay Weekly

I often think of 'Granfer'. Grand-dad Jim (Tucker) was a respected figure in and around Torquay and especially Hele Village where I grew up and St Marychurch where as a plumber he was based with builder Henry Keen.

He was a very quiet man, a man who had lived trough the horrors of World War Two where he lost several of his closest mates in battle and lived to pay the price with horrendous flashback nightmares.

As a young boy, he didn't let you get too close. That was to change as I grew up and he became one of my closest mates and somebody I looked up to with pride and fondness.

We used to live with nan and gramp at number 72 Hele Road, right in the middle of the village and next door to the old Royal Standard pub.

One of my most cherished memories as a youngster living there was exploring gramp's allotment at the  back of the Plymouth Brewery-owned house to see how his beans and carrots were doing - and learning to ride a bike in the narrow back lane where stinging nettles greeted you every time you fell off and made learning a quick priority.

I'm not sure if the little allotment,  back lane and nettles are still there. Sadly, the Standard has long gone to be replaced with flats.

A little bit of pride has also been lost in a place where I loved growing up and which still remains close to my heart today.

You can expect villages and communities to change over the years but Hele - and I have said this many times and before and will continue to do so - is in desperate need of some TLC.

How did I get to venture down memory lane? I was prompted by my little 'sis' who still lives in the village at 74 and just a door away from where we grew up together.

This is a shout out for her after she sent me this photograph. It shows rubbish from overflowing bins strewn all over the pavement. She has asked for help admitting that she is beginning to feel ashamed living surrounded by mess.

Ashamed not by the community spirit that still exists in the village or by the people and friends that live there with her.

Just ashamed by the look and feel of the place. Remember, Hele has become one of the main routes into Torquay - the problems that causes is another long, long unresolved story -  and is the first place thousands of visitors will see as they pass through in their coaches.

First impressions matter and this is not the picture we want to paint of our beautiful English Riviera.

I accept the rubbish bins have to be left somewhere and Hele is probably not alone when it comes to tackling this kind of problem but they appear to be there all the time, just waiting to be filled up and provide easy pickings for the scavenging seagulls.  Can't the back lane where I learned to ride play a part?

Torbay is generally at the crossroads to a bright new future with millions of pounds being invested in our town centres and tourism and hospitality industry.

I know the Liberal Democrat/Independent partnership now at the helm of Torbay Council are keen to make sure our local residents and communities benefit from all that investment as they 'turn the tide on poverty'

Hele Village is waiting and has been waiting for a long time. So has my little 'sis'!

Hope this helps....