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St Edmundsbury falls out of top 50 UK rural areas in 2017 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey

PUBLISHED: 19:50 31 March 2017 | UPDATED: 19:50 31 March 2017

The Nutshell pub in Bury St Edmunds is the second smallest pub in the UK, but St Edmundsbury is no longer one of the UK's top 50 rural areas partly due to a lack of pubs, according to the  2017 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey. Pictured is manager Jack Burton last year.

The Nutshell pub in Bury St Edmunds is the second smallest pub in the UK, but St Edmundsbury is no longer one of the UK's top 50 rural areas partly due to a lack of pubs, according to the 2017 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey. Pictured is manager Jack Burton last year.

A lack of pubs and health and leisure centres in St Edmundsbury has been blamed for the district dramatically falling out of a survey’s top 50 English rural areas.

Abbeygate Street in Bury St Edmunds is a popular area for visitors. Abbeygate Street in Bury St Edmunds is a popular area for visitors.

St Edmundsbury was last year ranked 10th in the annual Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey, which uses employment, education, social and environmental factors.

However, St Edmundsbury dropped out of the top 50 for 2017, to a new position of 53rd.

St Edmundsbury Cathedral viewed from the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds. St Edmundsbury Cathedral viewed from the Abbey Gardens in Bury St Edmunds.

A Halifax spokesman said: “Although St Edmundsbury scores strongly on average weekly earnings, employment rate and GCSE results, methodological changes this year have resulted in sharp movements. This is mainly due to the inclusion of the two new categories – number of pubs and the availability of health clubs and leisure centres.”

With stunning scenery and a good choice of pubs, the Orkney Islands in Scotland was ranked number one in this year’s survey.

Spring is in the air at Nowton Park in Bury St Edmunds.
Photo: ANDY ABBOTT Spring is in the air at Nowton Park in Bury St Edmunds. Photo: ANDY ABBOTT

A St Edmundsbury spokesman said: “We know that St Edmundsbury is a great place to live and work, and are disappointed that the perception of our area as assessed by the Halifax has been downgraded.

“It appears that this is based on changes to how this is measured. We are told that this is on the basis of the number of pubs and the availability of health clubs and leisure centres in the area, both of which have been added to the list of criteria this year.”

Walberswick on the Suffolk coast, which was ranked 36th in the 2017 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN. Walberswick on the Suffolk coast, which was ranked 36th in the 2017 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN.

Meanwhile, Babergh was the best-performing Suffolk district, in 25th position.

Arthur Charvonia, chief executive of Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils, said: “Our unemployment rate of just 0.9% compared to a national average of 4.7% tells a great story.

Promenade Park in Maldon, the district was ranked 23rd in the 2017 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey. Promenade Park in Maldon, the district was ranked 23rd in the 2017 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey.

“The success of local business growth such as Jim Lawrence in Hadleigh and Mauldons Brewery in Sudbury, for example, ripples beyond their areas.”

Ray Herring, leader of Suffolk Coastal District Council, ranked 36th, said: “Our coast boasts some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, has a relaxed way of life and great community spirit.”

The picturesque village of Saffron Walden in Uttlesford, ranked 22nd in the 2017 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey. The picturesque village of Saffron Walden in Uttlesford, ranked 22nd in the 2017 Halifax Rural Areas Quality of Life Survey.

A spokesman for Uttlesford District Council, ranked 22nd, said: “Our services and beautiful surroundings contribute to the comfort for residents.”

A spokesman for Maldon District Council, ranked 23rd, said: “Maldon is peaceful and has atmospheric coastlines, big skies and superb wildlife.”

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