The ten worst places to live in the UK

Updated: 

Bradford

Ten years after the very first 'Crap Towns' books named the worst places to live in Britain, the Doomsday Book of Misery is back. So which towns took the dreaded top spots, and why?

And have the top three of 2003 Hull, Cumbernauld and Morecambe, fared any better this year?


Things are a bit different this time round. Rather than the unashamed bias and bile of the authors dictating those that made the list, Crap Towns Returns held a series of in-depth interviews around the country, took into account house prices, crime, transport and the locals, and put together a long list of 100 towns. It then asked people to vote for the worst, and they have been doing so in their thousands since August.

Clearly this isn't modern science at its best, but it reveals the places with the worst reputations, that bring about the most irritation in the rest of the population. Perhaps this makes the winner less of a surprise.

1. London

As a world-class city, boasting exceptional breadth of culture, cuisine and entertainment, it's hard to see immediately why so many people declared it to be 'crap'. However, scratch beneath the surface, and voters revealed a deep and abiding loathing of the capital.

For those living in London, the impossible house prices and cost of living, the interminable transport problems, the noise and the difficulty of living cheek by jowl with the rest of the population have taken their toll. For the rest of the country, the capital seems remote and out-of-touch with the rest of the UK - driven by its own sense of superiority.

2. Bradford

Clearly Bradford (pictured) is no longer enjoying its textiles heyday, and some areas are in deep decline, with major social problems. The 1960s architecture of the centre and the demolition of a number of striking Victorian buildings, doesn't help its appeal. However, there's another side to the city - one that features culture and museums and the oldest concert hall in Britain.

3. Chipping Norton

The desirable and beautiful town no doubt has taken a major hit from the fame of the 'Chipping Norton' set. Wealthy Londoners at play in the country is not a sight that pleases everyone - especially when they include the Camerons, Rebekah Brooks and Jeremy Clarkson.

4. Southampton

The dominant 1960s architecture, coupled with a love of out-of-town shopping, leaves something of a drab central Southampton experience. The redevelopment of the centre is expected to kick off again next year, so there's hope for improvement the next time this list is assembled.

5. York

Quite how this beautiful city made it to the list is uncertain. Certainly there's no shortage of pubs, museums, culture and entertainment. The tourists don't seem to object either.

6. Gibraltar

It's a bit of a stretch to say this is in the UK, but let's give the list-compilers the benefit of the doubt. The combination of a dominant military, a large banking sector, and a sense of its own importance was enough to form a strong sense of dislike among voters - despite the beauty of this tourist destination.

7. Coventry

It's not Coventry's fault that massive bombing during World War II destroyed much of its beauty. However, we have no-one to blame but ourselves for the fact that we chose to replace it with 1960s concrete and to make a feature of the ring road.

8. Nuneaton

A commuter town for Coventry and Birmingham, Nuneaton suffers from a drab reputation and an uninspiring town centre. However, it has seen huge improvements in recent years to bring more of a thriving sense of purpose to the town - which hopefully will bear fruit next time this list is published.

9. High Wycombe

The biggest crime committed by this commuter town appears to be that it's terribly bland. The worst of the 1960s architecture has been redeveloped into a faceless centre - dominated by chain shops, betting shops and takeaways

10. Stoke-on-Trent

There's lots to love about Stoke, from Emma Bridgwater Pottery to Robbie Williams. However, the Staffordshire town also took a massive hit from the decline of heavy industry in the 1980s and 1990s, and now suffers high unemployment. The town is now home to a plethora of empty shops, factories and warehouses, and even the ceramics museum was boarded up in 2011.

The top 10 shows no sign of any of the top three in the original list. You could speculate that Morecambe did particularly badly in 2003 partly because of of the authors grew up there and didn't rate the experience.

A list like this - especially one which is clearly driven almost entirely by prejudice and personal bias - is always going to divide opinion. But what do you think? Did they get it right? Let us know in the comments.

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