18 Oct 2007

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Edinburgh


I wasn't born in Edinburgh, but I live here now, and love virtually everything about it. For me it has everything that anyone would want from a city, without being too big, and many others agree, such as:

The text is:

EDINBURGH has been named as the best place to live and work in the UK by the Channel Four property programme Location, Location, Location.

Presenters Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer made the announcement last night in a programme which revealed their top ten best and the worst places to live.

The capital, which was not even in the top 20 last year soared to the top of the list, while Middlesborough had the ignominious honour of being placed at the bottom of the heap.

Last night the crowning of Edinburgh as the most desirable place to live in the UK was welcomed by civic leaders, who said it confirmed what people who live and work in the capital already knew.

Jenny Dawe, the city council leader said: "This result is great news for the city and confirms what we all know - Edinburgh is a great place to live, work, invest and visit.

"The city truly has the best of everything - stunning architecture, fantastic employment opportunities, a vibrant leisure and retail offering, abundant green space, outstanding schools and universities...the list goes on."

Ailsa Falconer, manager of the Edinburgh Inspiring Capital Brand, said: "I am absolutely delighted that Edinburgh has won this accolade, it is a huge complement for the city. We should all feel extremely proud and fortunate to live in such an inspiring place."

Programme presenter Phil Spencer said the announcement of the annual Best and Worst list was always a highly charged affair.

He said: "It's the nature of the show that some people can get very, very excited and pleased, and some people get very, very upset and disappointed. We are always at pains to get people to understand that we are analysing statistics.

"There are certain criteria and questions that are asked. There's clear analysis of every borough in the country, and the results are the interpretation of those statistics."

Channel Four researchers base the list on an ICM poll which asks people which factors are the most important when choosing a place to live.

Edinburgh was placed highest on the list thanks to its wealth of culture, good education, record on health and low crime rates.

The city is home to the highest percentage of professionals in the UK, comprising nearly half the population. Residents are five times less likely to be victims of crime than the UK average.

Life expectancy is higher than the UK average and the city is ranked fourth best in the UK for GCSE results.

The business and tourism industry in Edinburgh is booming generating £170 million a year. And the city has a rich cultural identity, with 16 concert halls and theatres, nine cinemas and 38 museums and art galleries.

Researchers for the Channel Four programme also compared 434 local authorities, studying official statistics on crime, lifestyle, health, education and environment. The figures, from the local authorities, the home office and the Office for National Statistics are based on the most recent figures available.

The only other Scottish location to make it into the top twenty was East Dunbartonshire, which was placed at number eleven. Orkney, which last year was placed sixth did not make this year's list.

High crime rates, poor education results, health issues and severe drug problems all contributed to placing Middlesborough last on the list of the most desirable places to live.

The list of the worst places to live in Britain was dominated by places in the north of England and Wales, with no entries at all from Scotland.

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and the text is:

Happyness is a place called Edinburgh

PEOPLE living in the city centre are the happiest in Edinburgh and some of the most contented in Britain, according to the leading polling agency Mori.

A massive 96 per cent of people who live in the centre of the Capital said they were satisfied that they had everything around them they needed to enjoy life.

Contentment levels were high in all parts of the city, the Mori poll found, but those living in the centre lead the way closely followed by those in the south.

Even in the area where people were least happy with their lot - the Pentland area on the southern fringes of the Capital, which includes Balerno, Fairmilehead, Baberton and Colinton - around nine out of ten people were satisfied with life in Edinburgh.

Overall, Edinburgh was rated more highly by its residents than virtually any other city studied by Mori in recent years.

Happiness levels in the Capital were significantly higher than those recorded in Glasgow and London and a host of other cities.

Only three places - Northumberland, the Isle of Man and St Albans in Hertfordshire - were rated more highly by their residents than Edinburgh.

The findings follow a series of accolades for Edinburgh in the past 12 months, including being named one of the most talked about cities in the world and home to Britain's best event.

A higher concentration of big earners may be one of the reasons for the city centre and the south of the Capital leading the way in the happiness stakes.

Not surprisingly, the Edinburgh study found people were generally more satisfied with life in the city if they had more money.

Happiness ratings rose steadily across the different income brackets with those earning £40,000 a year or more rating themselves the most content.

The close proximity of a range of top restaurants, bars, shops and galleries, along with magnificent views, walks and parks, clearly outweighed the potential downsides of city centre life, such as possible noise, crowds and a lack of parking spaces.

When it came to rating their own neighbourhood, rather than the city as a whole, people in the city centre also came out on top. Again people across the Capital rated their neighbourhoods highly, with even the "worst" being given the approval of eight out of ten residents.

However, in the north and Leith, in particular, and the Pentland area, taking in Balerno, Fairmilehead, Baberton and Colinton, residents are less likely to be as satisfied.

Their view of the extent of minor crime, such as vandalism and graffiti, was the main reason for the lower rating, followed by complaints about youths hanging around the streets and litter.

While most people across Edinburgh felt there had been no significant change in the quality of life in recent times, one in ten said it had improved, citing a better range of shops, redevelopment and the social scene as reasons.

Those most happy with their lives in the Capital said its relatively small size made it feel much more like a community and did not make people feel "drowned" as they do in other major cities such as London.

The city's cosmopolitan feel, its willingness to embrace different cultures and a lively music scene and low crime rates also featured on a list of highlights for younger city centre dwellers.

City council leader Donald Anderson said he was not surprised Edinburgh had scored so highly in the happiness ratings.

He said: "Edinburgh is the best place to live in Britain. I think survey after survey is showing that.

"We live somewhere that has all the facilities of a major city, but you can get anywhere in a few minutes."

He added: "Personally, I love the Botanic Garden. I think it's the best free visitor attraction in Britain. It is beautiful and is amazingly tranquil to walk through.

"Another of my favourite things to do is just to walk through the city."

It is not only city dwellers who have a love affair with Edinburgh as countless tourism awards have named it a top place to visit.

In September, the Capital scooped two top accolades from travel magazine Conde Nast, naming it the fifth most talked about place in the world, beaten only by New York, Paris, Barcelona, and Sydney - and the top tourism destination in Britain. This was echoed by readers of the Guardian, who named it the best tourist destination in Britain, scoring 90.1 per cent in terms of visitor satisfaction. A survey of tourists carried out in August by Scottish tourism chiefs found the city was scoring higher than ever in the eyes of visitors.

The friendliness of local people, the atmosphere, its natural beauty and attractions like Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile were all regularly cited as the best thing about Edinburgh.

Even the city's cyclists are happy, with a report from the independent agency Cycling Scotland placing the city council second in a list of Scottish local authorities, behind only Fife.

The Military Tattoo, which draws thousands of people to Edinburgh every year, was named the number one event for tour groups in Britain by the readers of Group Leisure magazine.

And life-long city dwellers say they cannot imagine living anywhere else.

Francesca Contini, of the Valvona and Crolla family, runs the Vin Caffe restaurant on Multrees Walk and lives in the city centre. She said: "Edinburgh is a perfect sized city to live in. It's big enough that it's cosmopolitan and there is lots going on, but we don't get drowned like you do in London, where I lived for a year. I think there's a really community feel about it, which makes it different to a lot of major cities, and the different communities bring different things to the city.

"From my point of view, I think the Italian community has brought food and wine, as have some of the other communities such as Indian, Chinese and so on."

She added: "In the city centre, there's a lot of open space which is something you don't find in many cities. In the summer, everyone meets in Princes Street Gardens and relaxes in the sunshine and it's a great atmosphere."

Ms Contini, 25, who lives in Broughton, added: "I have a lot of friends who have no connection with Edinburgh, but they have been here, loved it and now want to move here. I think we have pride in what we do in Edinburgh and are happy doing it - and that shows."

The growing number of outsiders who move to Edinburgh looking for a better quality of life soon fall under the city's spell.

MSP Margo MacDonald moved to the city from the west coast 30 years ago and has no plans to leave.

"I don't trust this latest survey," she said. "Any survey which claims that Edinburgh is not THE best place to live in Britain must be wrong. Being in Edinburgh is still like being on holiday every day for me. I love the fact it is built on seven hills and you can get a fantastic view wherever you are.

"I still love walking down the High Street and thinking about all the people in history who have walked down there before me."

Letting agents in the Capital have seen a rise in the number of Scots returning home after a stint in London or people from other parts of the UK and the world looking to settle here.

Emma Fursman, managing director of Dunpark Property, said:

"We have a lot of people who take out a six-month let and three years later are still here," she said. "I think the attraction of Edinburgh is that everybody can enjoy the city to the full.

"There is excellent accommodation in the centre and people can walk to work, which isn't something you can do in many places."

Natasha Lobely, a PR manager from Dalmeny Street, Leith, is one of the expanding band of young professionals who decided to make the move to Edinburgh. She sold up her house in Bridgend, Wales, 18 months ago to take up a job in the Capital.

She had lived in Edinburgh for a year while on a placement from her university course and immediately liked the city.

Miss Lobely, 27, said: "I lived in Wales before, and although I enjoyed it there, Edinburgh just feels comfortable. You definitely get that it's a city and all the things that go with it, but it's got a smaller vibe as well."

'It has a very positive feel about it'

Nazar Farid, 33, retailer, George IV Bridge: "I think the city is a nice place to live because it is generally quite a clean city and the people are so friendly, it makes anyone feel at home.

"Events like the street party and the International Festival also add to the feeling of a really world-class international capital."

Christopher Day, 50, choreographer, Duncan Street: "I like the fact that Edinburgh is not an anonymous city, it has a lot of character and its architecture generally is very nice to look at, with some notable exceptions.

"It is a very cosmopolitan city, and while it is all relative, compared to other places it has a very positive feel about it. I also think the climate here is very good, and is certainly much better than people seem to think."

Brian Adam, 59, administrator, Hadfast Road: "I think Edinburgh is a really nice place to live.

"It is very close to the countryside and it is a city that is easy to walk around in.

"It is not as busy as some of the bigger cities and generally it has a nice friendly atmosphere."

 

and the text:

Observer travel awards: Favourite UK city - Edinburgh
A place of secrets, wild skies and cold beauty
Readers have voted Edinburgh their favourite UK city for the sixth year running.

A ship is pulling past the lighthouse on Inchkeith Island, making its way up the dark sliver of the Firth of Forth. To the north-west, the Ochil hills stand black beneath the lucent edges of autumn's pale sky. I am at my desk, at home, in the centre of the capital of Scotland.

Beauty will have something to do with Edinburgh being voted our favourite UK city for the sixth year in a row. Yet there are other lovely cities. And Edinburgh has never been particularly fawning to its guests. Remember the scene in Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting when some poor festival-goer gets mugged by Renton and Begbie? This is an improvement. In the 18th century, the city's ladies used a nasty local law to trap wealthy English lads into marrying them; the poor man only had to joke about how good a wife a woman might make before a pastor could, and would, be called.

Yet, even then, Edinburgh was seen as a superb destination. 'What a wonderful city Edinburgh is,' cried Coleridge, 'striking you with a sort of bastard Sublimity from the enormity and infinity of its littleness ...' Given that the contents of bedpans were still being chucked from the windows at the time, this explosion of love suggests the city's broader reach.

My guess is that Observer readers have good taste, and see the way Edinburgh reflects our nature within nature. I grew up in the Scottish Highlands but moved to Edinburgh after a stint in south London. It was 1991, and my first experience of the city was poetic, if discouraging. The haar was in, that cold fog that rises so thick from the Forth that, given a hammer, you could beat the sound of doom on its skin. I walked out to get a paper, and out of the mist a funeral parlour formed, an old man weeping on its steps.

Such darkness is inherent in Edinburgh's claim as the 'Athens of the North'. North, according to the wonderful Bill Duncan, author of the Wee Book of Calvin, is something we should love, along with 'black clothes, silence, November, and loud solemn whistling employing a tremulous vibrato'.

Back in the Nineties, Edinburgh was a city that suited a youth with pretentious and artistic aspirations. Those tremendous Georgian tenement flats could be rented for a pittance. Life passed in rooms with 15-foot high ceilings and exquisite cornicing.

I discovered the Baillie Bar, and Old Reekie could have been the St Petersburg of Crime and Punishment. 'Two drunks came walking out the door and, supporting and cursing each other, climbed up to the street.' The beautiful city has always had a seamier side. It is still one of the few places where no problems face those wanting a drink at 3am.

Over the years, the city has changed; improving, while losing little of its grit. The food that always came in from the farmlands of Angus and Perthshire or the black-edged seas around Scotland's west coast is now turned into fabulous meals by Michelin-starred chefs like Martin Wishart. Also, in the last few years, rooftop bars have opened at Oloroso, the Tower and Harvey Nichols. They take advantage of the city's heights, where ornate wind-vanes tell of our history, of plague, religion and, in the youth carrying the flame of knowledge above Robert Adams's Old College, the thirst for education.

The youth holds the light in the darkness in this city that the poet Kathleen Jamie calls, 'a place of wind and Northern sunlight'. In the 19th century Boswell staggered drunkenly into the dark closes, but he would always emerge to write. These days Alexander McCall Smith divides his time between laughing, writing bestselling novels, playing the bassoon and being a world authority on the law and medical ethics.

And Edinburgh's modern thinkers are approachable. This is a city with liberal instincts. Attempts have been made to make Edinburgh exclusive - a couple of private members' clubs and some silly secret societies - but for the most part such ill-charmed circles are eschewed. The openness is annually reiterated through the city's famous festivals.

If I happen across a lost-looking visitor while walking, I find they are often merely exploring, enjoying the calm beauty of a city where the lights burn warmly behind neo-classical and medieval facades.

Here a new type of city is growing, one that chooses not to expand into vast metropolises like London or Los Angeles but instead remains compact, while aspiring to all the sophistication of larger places.

An open-top tour bus is passing beneath my window. 'This is Stockbridge,' I hear the guide say. 'Edinburgh's bohemian quarter.' I laugh, but, why not?

Soon it will be winter, and I will stand at my window, gazing down at the serpent's curve of the road below, the cobbles slick and black in the cold. Beyond will lie the Botanic Gardens, with the lights of the contemporary art gallery in Inverleith House burning in the clear air, while out in the Forth, the lighthouse on Inchkeith Island will wink at me. Edinburgh: a number one destination, and not a bad city to return to either.

And the Winner of the Guardian Travel Award for 1999, 2000, 2001 ... 2007:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/pressoffice/pressrelease/story/0,,2201239,00.html

"Favourite UK City Edinburgh wins again for a remarkable eighth year running. Cambridge, Cardiff and Leeds make their top ten debut while London limps home to number 17.

1.Edinburgh 2.Belfast 3.Bath 4.Newcastle 5. York 6.Glasgow"

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and missed out on the first place to Durham for CNTraveller.com:

http://www.cntraveller.co.uk/ReadersAwards/2007/Cities/

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