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Last Updated: Monday, 27 September, 2004, 05:47 GMT 06:47 UK
Luton voted Britain's worst town
Vauxhall cars
Luton is famous for Vauxhall cars
Civic leaders have rallied round to defend Luton after it was branded the country's worst town in an online poll.

More than 20,000 people voted for Britain's worst place to live and the results will be published next month in Crap Towns II - The Nation Decides.

Luton is probably best known for the Vauxhall car factory and its airport, which featured in a famous 1977 Campari advert starring Lorraine Chase.

But residents have hailed the Bedfordshire town's community spirit.

4-Glasgow and Edinburgh
Crap Towns II is the sequel to last year's Crap Towns survey, which was edited by The Idler magazine's Sam Jordison and Dan Kieron.

David Franks, executive leader of Luton Borough Council and born and bred in the town, said: "This is hardly a scientific study.

"One of the measures of how happy a community is how often people volunteer and we have a huge number of voluntary groups.

"We also have excellent sports and fitness centres, a thriving Sunday football league, great restaurants and we are one of the only towns to have a multiplex cinema in the centre.

"Luton has a vibrant multi-cultural community."

Luton Airport
Luton Airport is another well-known feature
Cllr Franks said he was sure a town centre regeneration programme would result in Luton being knocked off the top spot next year.

But Liz Chinchen, 39, a PR officer now based in London but who lived in Luton for 25 years, said she would never go back.

She said: "Growing up there in the 70s and 80s, it was the kind of place that as soon as one of your friends could drive you spent every Friday and Saturday heading down the M1 to London.

"When people ask me where I am from I tend to say Bedfordshire as I don't want to own up to coming from Luton."

But she did admit that times were changing and she praised its multi-culturalism.

'Rampant self-neglect'

Then, Hull was named the nation's worst town with one voter describing it as a "sad story of unemployment, teenage pregnancy, heroin addiction, crime, violence, and rampant self-neglect".

This year, Hull dropped down to 19th.

Windsor was voted the second worst place to live this time around.

One voter said: "The big thing about Windsor is that its townsfolk believe that by living near the castle they are more or less royalty themselves."

Sunderland - "not so much a town as a mortuary" - came in third followed by Edinburgh and Glasgow in joint fourth.


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