BRACKNELL has jumped up nine places in an annual survey to be ranked as the 19th best place to live in Great Britain. Neighbouring Wokingham borough has maintained its position at number three and has the highest proportion of residents in the South East in good health, at 95.5%.

Last year Windsor and Maidenhead was at 19th place in the Halifax Quality of Life Survey but this year it has been knocked off its spot by Bracknell borough and has dropped out of the top 50 to 64th place.

The survey of 405 local authorities - this year topped by Hart in Hampshire then Elmbridge in Surrey - takes into account several factors including the crime rate, average pay, house prices, GCSE results, primary school class sizes and health, using figures from the Government, the Met Office and other sources.

Bracknell Town Mayor Cllr Gill Birch said: "I've always thought Bracknell is a fantastic place to live.

"I really think it just shows what a good council we are because one of the things that really makes people feel better for their well-being is the environment.

"I think we keep it looking beautiful. I think that makes a big difference when you drive round and see it looking litter-free and with flowers planted."

She also said the restoration work to South Hill Park arts centre's grounds are a boost and that plans are moving forward with the town centre redevelopment.

Pat Kennewell, who is involved with a number of community activities in Birch Hill and Hanworth including the Neighbourhood Action Group, community association, litter picks and a youth club, said: "I'm delighted. I think Bracknell is a very good place to live."

She said its links to the countryside and cities plus its community spirit make it a good place to be but the town centre regeneration is needed to stop it deteriorating.

She added: "We work hard at community spirit.

"There's lots more litter picks now, there's lots more people having street parties."

The survey put Bracknell employment rate at 81%, slightly higher than Wokingham's at 79.1%.

The average gross weekly earning in Bracknell is �691, compared with �766 in Wokingham and �606 nationally.

Wokingham borough mayor Cllr Dianne King said: "We have good education and pretty good health and low unemployment. Despite the current economic gloom, we are still better than most places.

"On top of that, we have this fantastic community spirit with people doing things for others.

"I just think it's a fantastic place to live."

The number of burglaries per 10,000 of the population in Bracknell is 21.9 and 25.8 in Wokingham.

The survey also found Bracknell residents may find it easier to buy a home, with the house prices to earnings ratio at 6.2 instead of 7 in Wokingham - but both are higher than the UK average of 5.25.

The average annual rainfall and number of hours of sunshine each week were 685mm and 30.6 respectively in Wokingham; and 700mm and 31.4 in Bracknell, compared with 882mm and 29.7 nationally.

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