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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Reading named worst for families
Reading
Reading's crime rates and house prices counted against it
A Berkshire town has been named the worst place in Britain to bring up a family, according to a new survey.

The Reader's Digest poll asked 1,000 parents to list the things that make for a family-friendly environment.

The researchers then ranked places on how they scored against the criteria - which included crime rates, good local hospitals and affordable housing.

Reading was last in 408th place, while Oxford was 399th. The Scottish district of East Dunbartonshire came top.

Reading Crime
Burglary 32% (England average 13%)
Violence against person 29.7% (19%)
Theft from vehicle 20% (9%)

Councillor Jo Lovelock, deputy leader of Reading Borough Council, said: "Families clearly enjoy living in Reading as they continue year after year to move here to live and work.

"Parents are attracted by the high standard of living, the thriving local economy and the excellent job prospects for themselves and for their children.

"Reading is the de facto capital of the Thames Valley and it is surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in the South of England. It also has excellent recreational facilities for families.

"We have two universities and our schools offer a very wide range of educational opportunities.

''WORST' FAMILY PLACES
399. Oxford, Oxfordshire
400. Lewisham, London
401. North Lincolnshire
402. Rother, East Sussex
403. Kingston upon Hull
404. Haringey, London
405. Hastings, East Sussex
406. North East Lincolnshire
407. Waltham Forest, London
408. Reading, Berkshire

"Reading is an excellent place to bring up a family and it is hard to take a study seriously that does not recognise this.

"We would also question the methodology of this survey. For example, it compares very small towns with large cities and counties and there is no explanation or justification for this process."

A spokesman from the Reader's Digest magazine, which carried out the study, said that "community" was the vital component for parents - "the concerned neighbours, teachers and community groups that stand behind safe streets, strong schools and thriving towns".

"Smaller is beautiful, says the survey.

"The winning areas are predominantly rural, peppered with small country towns - only three include towns with populations greater than 40,000," said the spokesman.

Reading has a population of 144,000 and the average semi-detached house costs 232, 524 - the national average is 170, 650.

The town's unemployment rate is 2.3% - with a typical worker earning 22,560 a year, well above the average for the UK.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Reading residents say their town doesn't deserve criticism in a new survey.



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