Budleigh Salterton has featured in a national TV news report about thriving small towns.  

On Wednesday, January 4, BBC Breakfast reported that with more people working flexibly from home as a result of the Covid pandemic, city centres are now much quieter, while smaller towns have become busier.  

Journalist David Sillitoe visited Budleigh Salterton and spoke to traders and local residents. He reported that the Longboat Café is staying open throughout the winter because off-season customer numbers are so high, and that in the High Street there is not a single vacant shop unit. Among his interviewees were greengrocer Andrew Beatty who said business is brisk lately. 

Moving on to the seafront, he interviewed local residents Mark Godfrey and Adam Sweet about the number of families moving into Budleigh – which has traditionally been seen as the home of older, retired people. 

Helen Warren, a director of Budleigh Information Centre, said the report showed the town in a very positive light. 

She said: “The changing working patterns adopted during the pandemic have obviously had a positive impact on using local amenities, and the fact that numbers in Budleigh Salterton have apparently increased by 60 per cent can only be a welcome boost for local trades and the vibrancy of the town as a whole.  

“The BBC article also highlighted an increase in families wanting to live in Budleigh as well as retirees, which is encouraging, as the town has lots to offer young people, including fabulous water sport opportunities,  the skatepark and family activities organised by  Budleigh Lit Fest each year and by the Lions during Gala week.” 

The BBC report also featured Ottery St Mary, focusing on the Volunteer Inn, which used the lull in business during Covid to refurbish the pub. Owners Mike and Jacqui Down say trade is now much busier than in 2019, before the pandemic. 

As a contrast to Devon’s bustling small towns, reporter David travelled to the centre of London during what should have been the evening rush hour. At a time when the streets used to be filled with commuters heading for the Underground, there were only a few people around, showing that the five day, nine-to-five office week is now a thing of the past.