Beautiful South wipes out Wales, Scotland and North in countryside poll of rural districts with highest living standards
Following stints with Reuters and the Press Association, Martin Hickman joined The Independent as a news editor in 2001. He became the Consumer Affairs Correspondent in September 2005 and has run the paper's trenchant campaigns on packaging, bank charges and factory-farmed chicken. He writes on subjects as diverse as food, finance, energy and fashion. With Tom Watson, he is author of a new book on the phone hacking scandal, Dial M for Murdoch - News Corporation and the Corruption of Britain.
Friday 29 March 2013
Godalming sparked interest in sedate south-west Surrey in 1881 when its townsfolk became the first in the world to benefit from a public supply of electricity.
One hundred and thirty-two years later, the Saxon settlement that lit up the streets is in the news again for the amenities enjoyed by its residents.
Waverley, the local authority district of which Goldalming serves as the headquarters, has been named the area of rural Britain with the highest living standards.
In a further sign of the North-South divide, Scotland and Wales were entirely absent from the Halifax building society's list of the top 50 boroughs and districts.
The Home Counties and the East of England dominated the survey through a winning mixture of good health, low crime and relatively cheap housing. Of the top 10 on the Halifax's list, only two local authorities are from outside southern England: Rushcliffe and South Northamptonshire in the East Midlands. Among the areas checked were wealth – house prices, employment and earnings – and more traditional indicators of quality of life, such as health, life expectancy, exam results and crime rates.
Waverley won no points for supplying electricity, but 97 per cent of its 121,000 residents were in "good health". Residents in Godalming, Farnham and Haslemere and elsewhere in Waverley had wealth too, with an average weekly wage of £888, significantly above the UK average of £609. Employment of almost 80 per cent compares well with the national average.
Crucially, house prices are also relatively affordable at about £325,000, 5.6 times local earnings. Across rural Britain, house prices cost around six times annual earnings. Uttlesford in north-west Essex, home of Saffron Walden, was in second place, followed by neighbouring East Hertfordshire. Sixteen of the top 50 – almost a third – came from the South-east.
Scotland was rated highly for low population density and lack of traffic and, sometimes, crime. The survey found nothing positive to say about Wales.
Rural living the top 10 districts
1 Waverley, South-east
2 Uttlesford, East of England
3 East Hertfordshire, East of England
4 Chiltern, South-east
5 Maldon, East of England
6 South Cambridgeshire, East of England
7 Rushcliffe, East Midlands
8 Vale of White Horse, South-east
9 South Northamptonshire, East Midlands
10 South Oxfordshire, South-east
And the award for most dismal town goes to... Scotland
A former pit community, New Cumnock, was yesterday named Scotland's "most dismal town".
Urban Realm magazine gave the East Ayrshire town its annual Carbuncle award, citing the "haemorrhaging of shops" and "a general absence of maintenance on derelict properties". Even the building of a new primary school had been overshadowed by the threatened closure of the town hall and the sell-off of a church, the Scottish housing specialists said.
New Cumnock, which has 1,800 residents, was hit by the decline of coal mining in the 1980s. Fort William, Motherwell, Kirkintilloch, Newmilns and Paisley were the other towns shortlisted.
- 1 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe Ned Stark's son may have a twin sister
- 2 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 3 Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 How the NHS is being dismantled in 10 easy steps
Miley Cyrus address Robin Thicke VMA controversy: ‘He wanted me as naked as possible, but I got the heat because I’m a woman’
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
Blood Moon and Supermoon: September to bring brightest – and dimmest – full Moon of the year on same night
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith 'should resign over disability benefit death figures', says Jeremy Corbyn
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
Stock up on canned food for stock market crash, warns former Gordon Brown adviser
£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...
£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...
£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...