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.
Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Wreckage could be found within a week as search reaches 'very critical juncture', says minister
South Korea ferry disaster: Released transcripts show chaos and confusion in the moments before ferry sinks
Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
South Korea ferry disaster: Families watch as remains of Sewol victims returned to shore
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
Abdullah Deghayes: My son was the martyr of a just cause, says father of British teenager killed in Syria conflict
Ukraine crisis: Helicopter gunships take country closer to all-out war
- 1 Chelsea 1 Sunderland 2: Graceless reaction of Jose Mourinho a sad effort to hide his own flaws
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 Unbeliebable: The White House offer 'no comment' to anti-Justin Bieber petition
- 4 Loch Ness Monster found on Apple Maps?
- 5 Shropshire criminals ‘using unmanned drones and infrared cameras to find illegal cannabis farms’ – and then steal from the growers
£130 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Ilford: Secondary Geography Teacher Lo...
£55 - £70 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Are you a dynamic and energeti...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: SEN TAs, LSAs and Support Workers needed...
£50000 - £60000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: The Sheffield office of this...