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Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
Town rejecting dismal TV label
Strabane map
Strabane in County Tyrone has a population of about 15,000
The County Tyrone town of Strabane has been ranked the eighth worst place to live in the UK, according to research for a television show.

Unemployment and helicopter activity are cited by the Channel 4 programme The Best And Worst Places To Live In The UK: 2006 as reasons for the poor showing for the town.

The rundown is to be presented by property hunters Sofie Allsopp and Phil Spencer on Thursday.

The London district of Hackney was the worst place to live in the UK, according to the programme.

Results were based on five criteria for home-buyers - crime, environment, lifestyle, education and employment.

Spencer said: "We've only just come out of hiding after the storm this show created last year. But it's all based on official data, we're merely presenting the facts - harsh as they may be."

Allsopp said: "All the research is rock solid, we look at every single local authority, all 434 of them, and the figures speak for themselves."

The result is an improvement for the town, it came third in the worst category last year, but locals had been hoping to be off the dismal towns list.

Strabane District Council Chairman Thomas Kerrigan of the DUP said his town was a great place to live, and getting better with more housing and plenty of activities for locals.

Millennium sculpture
The Strabane millennium scultpure

"I can't understand it - over the last five years we have been on the up," he said.

He said that more businesses were coming to the town and negative comments would hit efforts at attracting more investment and jobs to the town.

He said the programme makers should meet the council to let locals get their view across and that crime in the town was not as bad as people thought.

"This is not helping our case and it has been difficult enough without us being painted as a blackspot," he added.

Satellite town

The Londonderry/Strabane area has seen strong price growth in the housing market with an increase of 28.4% taking the average house price to 151,462.

The programme notes that the British military presence has left the town, but cites security force checkpoints as one of the downsides of living in the area.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland website said crime in the town was also falling, down 17.8% on last year.

Robert Boggs runs J Boggs, an estate agent's, auctioneers and valuers, which started in the town in the 1940s.

He said that while the town garnered a bad reputation during the Troubles it was one where the population did business together and said reports of daily checkpoints were "nonsense".

Mr Boggs said that it was becoming increasingly popular as a satellite town, with people from Londonderry cashing in on the equity from their city properties, reducing overheads and moving to larger properties in the commuter belt.

He said there was a sea change from when he found it almost impossible to sell property in the town.

"It is by no means as dire as it has been portrayed," he said.


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