Rural Yorkshire’s heartlands dominant the top spots in a new national ranking of the best places to live.
The quality of life on the Scottish archipelago of Orkney is ranked the best in the whole of the UK, according to an analysis by Halifax bank, but three areas of North Yorkshire make the top ten, more than any other region.
Richmondshire, which includes parts of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, is ranked second, one ahead of Rutland in the East Midlands, while the Hambleton district is fourth and Ryedale comes eighth.
The list has been compiled based on a range of factors, including crime rates, health, employment and education.
It was Richmondshire’s excellent personal wellbeing scores, low crime rates and traffic volumes, as well as boasting a large number of pubs in proportion to its population size, that helped it to secure the runner-up spot.
The top 50 places to live in the UK also included two more areas of North Yorkshire, Harrogate, ranked 26th, and Selby at number 50.
Councillor Carl Les, leader of North Yorkshire County Council, said he was delighted by the findings.
“Having been a North Yorkshire resident nearly all my adult life, I would fully concur with these findings,” he said.
“North Yorkshire is a lovely place to live and I’m only rather surprised that the rest of North Yorkshire didn’t make it into the rankings.”
Nonetheless, Coun Les admitted that there are a series of acute ongoing challenges facing the county council and the region’s district councils to ensure that the area continues to offer a high quality of life for everyone.
He said: “We have pockets of deprivation and poor educational attainment figures in some areas and we don’t ignore them. We try and deal with them.
“The whole rural idyll can cover up deprivation and so we work hard as a county council with our district councils to overcome that.”
North Yorkshire County Council, as with every other council in the country, has been forced to reduce its spending due to huge cuts to government funding over recent years.
By the end of the decade, the county council’s spending power will have fallen by 34 per cent.
The council is also facing a projected budget shortfall of almost £200m by 2021/22. So far the council has taken action to make savings worth £157m and its next annual budget is due to be agreed next month.
Coun Les added: “When you look back over the years of austerity it has had an impact, but we think we have been able to manage that in a very clever way.
“We haven’t thrown our hands up in horror.
“We have taken a huge amount out of our library services but only one library in North Yorkshire has closed - at Hunmanby near Filey where there’s another library three miles down the road.
“North Yorkshire has always been a community based area. Volunteers have always stepped up to the plate.”
Other parts of the UK in Halifax’s top ten places to live are Cumbria’s Eden district, South Oxfordshire, the Cotswolds, St Albans and the Derbyshire Dales.
London has just two areas in the full top 50 list, Westminster in 15th and Richmond-upon-Thames, 40th.
Parts of the South tended to score particularly well on employment, earnings, life expectancy and health and the weather, while northern region typically fared better in terms of housing affordability, lower traffic flows and population densities, and smaller primary school sizes.
Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “While the South East continues to have the most locations in the top 50, we’ve seen northern areas perform particularly well on education, while they also benefit from lower house prices when compared to average earnings.”