Frontlines: Quality of life in the Uk’s towns

Every so often now there’s a league table published on good and bad places to live. Like the book of “crap towns” which is renewed periodically, and Channel 4’s recent run down of the 10 best and worst places to live in the UK.

What always strikes me is how much I like some of the “worst” places, and how unappealing some of the “best” places are.

Apparently, people vote on issues that are important to them. Who are these people, and where’s my vote? They considered factors including employment, education, crime rate, environment and lifestyle. No mention of family and community then.

Strangely, some great places score very badly, and end up on the “worst” list. Vibrant, buzzing Manchester; Islington, and Nottingham, the latter despite being the fourth best place to shop on another survey.

Apparently, in some of the “best” places to live people live longer, although I expect it may just seem longer. I’m sure Orkney is beautiful and great for a holiday, but well… quiet. It’s hardly surprising it has no crime. And Kensington and Chelsea, where the average house price won’t buy you a garage? Doesn’t sound that good to me.

Go to “crap” Merthyr Tydfil and they’ll throw in a four-bed semi and garden to go with it, or buy five terraced houses in Middlesbrough for the same price.

Hull has regularly featured in “crap towns”, but how do you categorise a sight like the Humber Bridge rising from the mist, and looking for all the world like the Golden Gate? Like many of these “crap” places it has so much character that’s hard to quantify.
These towns are also often big on family and community. Many have  been blighted by the decline of traditional industries and unemployment. But most have turned a corner and have lots to offer as places to live, work and visit.

I know the league tables are just a bit of fun really, but it’s amazing how much debate they fuel. People rage on local radio phone-ins, and letters pages spring to the defence of the home patch.

They say home is where the heart is, so you can keep Eastleigh, Epsom and Harrogate, all on the “best” list (unless you happen to live there of course), and lay off our “crap towns”.

Jennifer Harvey is a carer and works

with people with learning difficulties

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