Jim Parker: As much as I dislike this situation, as least there aren't so many cars out

Ian Goddard-Hill in 'empty' Hele Village

Ian Goddard-Hill in 'empty' Hele Village - Credit: Archant

It has been a strange and obviously worrying past few weeks and it looks as if we are in more of the same in the weeks and, please no, months ahead.

Not the ideal time or circumstances in which to launch a new newspaper to say the least. Printed newspapers are having a tough time of it in our industry as it is. And now we are slap-bang in the middle of the biggest crisis to hit the country since the Second World War.

But we have so far managed to do it. A unique launch edition followed by our second last week. The feedback and support has been absolutely brilliant and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for that.

We believe we have a publication and a distribution model which are distinct and different and puts us at the heart of our community which was always my plan, my dream. We just need to keep battling on. That support will be crucial in the weeks to come.

Fred the rocking horse has played a part in all that. He has been my companion as we all went into lockdown. My inspiration sat with me in our play room at home, my'office', along with Charlie the car and Sid the Scooter.

A play room and house, by the way, that is not the same without the grandkids. Oh how we miss them!

It is anybody's guess when we will ever get out of this. I have tried to stop looking and taking too much notice of the daily headlines. They make for depressing reading.

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In a strange way, however, and for some the lockdown has had a positive spin-off. Take the forlorn residents of Hele Village and Torquay. I spent my childhood growing up in the village and many more years working there after that.

One of the biggest problems in recent years has been air quality and pollution.

Hele was once a thriving little community all on its own. It boasted a variety of independent shops from newsagents and hardware store to greengrocers and bookmakers along with three local hostelries, the Royal Standard pub and Conservative and RAOB clubs. It had a real community feel to it.

Alas over the years time has taken its toll. Most of the shops have gone. So, too, has the Standard and the 'Buff' club.

Yes, there is still spirit in the community. Absolutely so. The local community centre does a great job to make sure of that.

But it ain't like it used to be.

Over time Hele has become a rat run for lorries and large increases in other traffic coming up from the main Newton Road or town centre in the opposite direction and passing straight through the main Hele Road virtually every day of the week.

Pollution levels are among the worst, if not the worst, in the Bay.

Various council regimes have promised action and I would suspect air quality levels are still being monitored but little else has been done. Meanwhile, residents cannot open their windows and some buildings look a mess.

It won't have done their health any good either.

But the lockdown has changed things. Many of the cars and lorries have disappeared. The residents of Hele have been given a new lease of life.

Ian Goddard-Hill lives at number 7 Hele Road and says: 'During the lockdown our quality of life has been so much better with less traffic.'

Sorting our some trees at the bottom of Hele Road has also helped.

Ian says: 'We have had tree surgeons here sorting out the trees at the Hele Road double roundabout end.

'It's been really interesting watching them work using their skills with ropes to get the branches down from the tall trees safely.

'It's so much better now that the trees have come down. It is a lot lighter and the air feels fresher because the exhaust fumes are going up in the air rather than being kept below the tree line and we are getting more sun.

'We have even been able to sit outside on the balcony and it was quite lovely.'

Ian has now contacted Torbay Council to see if the road can become one-way when the lockdown is relaxed and before the heavy traffic returns. Every cloud has a silver lining although I would even welcome a return of the traffic if that was a sign of getting things back to a sense of normality. With the utmost respect to Fred, of course.