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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 October, 2003, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
UK's 'worst 50' towns revealed
Merton College. Oxford
Despite its dreaming spires, Oxford comes in at number 31
Fifty British towns and cities are battening down the hatches this weekend for a hail of fire from disillusioned residents.

They have been selected for the dubious distinction of inclusion in a book called 'Crap Towns: The 50 Worst Places to Live in the UK', published on Saturday.

The hunt for Britain's most noisome neighbourhood began last year, when Idler magazine invited nominations on its website - and the weight of the response shocked co-authors Dan Kieran and Sam Jordison.

TEN 'WORST TOWNS'
1 Hull
2 Cumbernauld
3 Morecambe
4 Hythe
5 Winchester
6 Liverpool
7 St Andrews
8 Bexhill-on-Sea
9 Basingstoke
10 Hackney
"People really got behind the idea. The response was really positive - everyone's got a sense of humour - especially the people who live in Hull," Mr Kieran told BBC News Online.

Hull takes first place - decried by a former resident as "a sad story of unemployment, teenage pregnancy, heroin addiction, crime, violence, and rampant self-neglect".

But the so-called "crap map" of the UK contains some surprises, with "des res" hotspots St John's Wood and Winchester in the top 15.

'Insufferable smugness'

Hull fountain
We found that people were talking about the city as it was... The reality now is very different
Emma Pearson Kendall
Hull City Image

And the pocket-sized guide leaves the well-heeled racing town of Ascot little room for complacency.

One reader denounces "the insufferable smugness and bigotry one associates with the jodhpur-wearing, Landranger-driving classes".

Though readers' votes were weighted in accordance with each town's population to allow smaller towns a chance at the top 50, the authors of the guide are the first to admit the list is unashamedly unscientific and biased.

Morecambe, Mr Jordison's hometown, came in at number three. More surprising, perhaps, the town of origin of Mr Kieran - the picturesque riverside hamlet of Alresford in Hampshire - sneaks into the list at number 43.

'People left behind'

HAVE YOUR SAY
Without a doubt it has to Rotterdam. With its ugly buildings, dirty streets and the high crime rate. It is absolutely awful!
John van Breugel, UK

But the authors also say the book has a serious point.

"Councils are more interested in business than in the people who live there," Mr Kieran said.

"People are left behind and not really considered in decisions."

And the authors do allow their victims an "in defence of" section.

Cast of BBC Two's The Office
TV show The Office did not do Slough's image any favours
"Slough has a number of high points," says one voter. "For example, it has a wide and varied wildlife."

The authors say they are preparing a follow-up book about their own impressions of the towns nominated.

And they are already inviting nominations for a counterpart guide to the US - "the spiritual home of the crap town".




SEE ALSO:
Hull fights to defend its image
31 Jul 03  |  Humber
What's it called? Cumbernauld
21 Nov 01  |  Scotland
Belfast 'best place to live'
01 Oct 03  |  Northern Ireland


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