Last week, for want of something better to do before bedtime, I watched the last half an hour of the UK’s Best and Worst Place to Live 2007. To dispense with the intrigue, Edinburgh was the best place to live, and Middlesbrough the worst. Of course, now what’s running through your head is, how did they come up with those two? Especially if you are living in Middlesbrough and think it’s a really great place to live, or stuck Edinburgh and think it’s shite.
Trying to be objective, the program decided that things such as, how good is the shopping , nightlife, cultural facilities and architecture and whether little Johnny is going to get a good education at school rather than end up knifed in some prepubescent fight in the dinner queue, were good criteria . Of course, in reality (other than being a victim of crime) such things are subjective. What’s more, like most things these days, the whole premises was based on consumption – what can I get from where I live? What can I suck out of a place to improve my quality of life?
The two places I call home, either didn’t feature at all (that being Bristol, where I currently live), or made it into the top ten worst places to live (that being my place of birth, Grimsby, in NE Lincolnshire). Both of which, I have to say, have been wonderful places to live, not because they can tick off things on the list, but because they are friendly, have good community spirit, and a high proportion of citizens who take an active role in local politics and decision making, or volunteer and run projects that make those places caring places to be. Indeed, Bristol was voted the ‘Smiliest’ place in the country and has just come third on the Sustainable Cities Index published by Forum for the Future. As for Grimsby, well I didn’t recognize the place from the mini-report made about it, given that they opted to show its most run down areas, rather than it’s newly developed shopping center, open green spaces and the beautiful countryside that’s on its doorstep. Equally, having spent some time working in some of Edinburgh’s housing estates, I know it’s not all Prince’s Street and Georgian architecture. Given the cost of living and the kinds of income required to make the most of the criteria employed in the decision making, I guess the program should have been called: The Best Place to Live if You’re Middle Class and Can Afford to Consume it.
The truth is, people make the places we live in, and I’m very happy to be a Grimsby Lad living in Bristol.
PS – The view is Grimsby Docks. The Tower being based on the one in the Piazza del Campo in Sienna – but the program decided Kwik Save was more representative of Grimsby’s Townscape!