Devon is known for its uniquely pretty towns and villages – but hidden behind the expensive postcodes are some of the country’s most deprived areas.
Jess Morcom www.devonlive.com
Recently, Devon Live launched its campaign, Hidden Devon, a series of campaigns highlighting issues that lie beneath the surface of our county, including deprivation.
Last year, the Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) statistics were released, which showed that the area around Clarence Place in Stonehouse, Plymouth, is the most deprived in the county.
The figures took into account various factors, including income, crime, employment and education.
They also revealed that overall, 17% of neighbourhoods in Plymouth and 16% in Torbay, are among the most deprived 10% in Devon.
Many non-deprived people live in deprived areas, and many deprived people live in non-deprived areas. It is important to note that the index is designed to identify and measure specific aspects of deprivation, rather than measures of affluence.
But we wanted to know if residents of Devon agreed with these results.
We asked readers where they thought was the most deprived neighbourhood in Devon – and most importantly, how it could be improved.
A staggering 25% of participants, that took part in the survey, thought that Torquay was the most deprived area in Devon, followed by Paignton, which gained 20% of the vote.
In addition, 12% of readers that took part said that they thought Plymouth was the most deprived in the county, although no specific parts of the city were listed.
Newton Ferrers, Tiverton, Exeter and Torbay were also popular suggestions.
The majority of readers thought that unemployment or underemployment was the main concern within the deprived areas of Devon, with this option gaining over 40% of the vote.
A further 29% of readers opted for homelessness being the main problem in the deprived town or neighbourhood.
A lack of adequate schools, as well as lack of support for arts and culture were also suggestions.
There were mixed suggestions for ways that Devon’s most deprived towns could be improved.
One reader wrote: “The whole of Paignton needs vast improvement, too much talking from the council, needs more action.
“The so-called town is an embarrassment, from cheap pubs where people just sit on the streets to the terrible bus station and railway – the appearance is horrendous. Very deprived.”
Another said: “Improvements could be made to Torquay by using the many empty and unused hotels, old buildings boarded up to create temporary accommodation for those who wish to turn their lives around.
“More funding is needed to give people the help and opportunities to get them integrated into society where alcohol and drug dependency is no longer their only choice.
“Torbay seems to be a town that’s overlooked and has no funding for fixing the issues and now looks like a town fresh out of a horror or apocalypse film. Shocking reality is no one appears to care about this or those stuck on streets either.”
Another reader said of Torquay: “It’s a shame as the place has really gone down the shoot in recent years, more like driving through parts of the North West now, derelict streets filled with alcoholics and drug addicts. Shocking place to see now.”
A third added: “More jobs in and around the Torbay area. Employment outside of the hospitality industry is lacking following the demise of Nortel, Brookers and WKD. We need more industry and transport links here.”
Meanwhile, one Exeter resident feels as though litter is its biggest issue: “Litter is the main issue its becoming such a dirty area – it needs more rubbish bins, including dog waste bins as the area is also rife with dog dirt.”