A Devon property and community survey has revealed that more than half of us want better transport links in our areas.
The Tindle Property Survey asked more than 300 people across the UK and the Isle of Man what they thought of the area they lived in and what they thought could be improved.
Looking at their current neighbourhoods, more than half of the respondents in Devon (52.8 per cent) said that they wanted better transport links.
The areas where this answer was the most frequent were Okehampton and Dartmouth, followed by Totnes.
Of the areas polled nationally, Devon was the area in which better transport links were mentioned the second most frequently, coming only behind West Somerset (59.1 per cent).
This is in line with government data on bus services released last year, with 2021’s annual bus statistics showing that the South West was the worst area in England for bus punctuality, at 78.5 per cent for non-frequent services.
Independent charity Devon Communities Together explained that there are "many" rural areas of Devon that have no bus services - which can lead to missed opportunities for residents.
Jo Atkey, Deputy Chief Executive of Devon Communities Together, commented: “As Devon’s Rural Community Council we’ve worked for over 60 years with people in communities all over the county to help them address lots of different issues – and there are a number of results from your survey that resonate with our experiences.
“In terms of transport, there are many rural areas that have no bus service whatsoever. In those that do have a service it is often infrequent and at times that don’t always suit people’s needs.
"For example, we hear from young people who are not in education, training or employment that they have been unable to get to interviews or apprenticeships due to lack of buses and therefore missed out on opportunities.
"Older people and those with additional needs often report that they will not use the bus as they cannot be sure it will turn up and they don’t want to risk being stranded.
"For many this can lead to isolation, limited social contact and in some cases an inability to get to medical appointments or essential services.
“Through our Connecting You project, we are working closely with transport providers and those responsible for strategic transport planning to support people who don't use public transport as much as they could due to health, access issues or anxiety.
"Our team is offering free travel training to other community organisations to allow them to support the people they work with to use public transport, and we have lots of really great resources available. Please get in touch if this sounds like something you could benefit from.
"It’s great timing, as, where there are bus services available, many routes in Devon come under the Government-subsidised £2 bus fares, so there are more opportunities for affordable travel around the county between now and March."
Among the other community improvements suggested, more green spaces and more play areas were near the top of people’s lists, with 22.6 per cent mentioning the former and 20.8 per cent the latter.
The next most mentioned improvement at 18.9 per cent was more safe crossing points on roads near them, a point primarily championed by those in Crediton and Okehampton.
Leisure facilities and street cleans were tied at 16.9 per cent, while the least mentioned improvement needed was more community events, at 13.2 per cent, with no votes for this in Kingsbridge, Ivybridge, Totnes or Dartmouth.
Respondents were also given the opportunity to write in suggested improvements that weren’t listed in the survey.
Some of the write-in answers included more safe pavements/footpaths, parking, electric car charging points, more NHS services, affordable disabled family friendly properties, bigger supermarkets and better street lighting.
Jo Atkey of Devon Communities Together added: “We notice some of your readers felt there was a lack of NHS services available to them. A common theme in our work with communities is exploring ways in which existing community assets can be used in a different way to help bring much needed services into rural locations.
"At the moment, we are conducting a first ever Devon-wide audit of village halls; looking at where they are, what they’re doing and what they could do in the future with the right support.
"It’s amazing to celebrate these wonderful buildings for what they’re already achieving, but also look to the future and envision these spaces as health and wellbeing hubs for their communities.
"For example, could they host visiting NHS services, consultation spaces, access to digital healthcare? We’re also looking at whether they would be the right place for electric charging points and what other support they might need to become more energy efficient.”