County scores high in quality of life survey

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WITH lush green landscapes, top class education and ever improving health, most people know that life in Suffolk is pretty good.

And now a survey has officially confirmed that the county’s living standards are some of the best in the country.

Halifax, which is part of the Lloyd’s Banking Group, has drawn up a list ranking the top 50 rural local authority districts in terms of quality of life.

Although South Cambridgeshire landed the top spot, Mid Suffolk scored high at 16, followed by St Edmundsbury at 36, Babergh at 38 and Forest Heath at 42.

The list was compiled following an examination of 140 local authority districts and is based on resident’s health, life expectancy, employment, school performance and regional climate.

Representatives from each sector have given their reasons as to why they think Suffolk has put in such a strong performance in the survey.

When looking at Mid Suffolk, Dr Amanda Jones, NHS Suffolk’s deputy director of public health, noted that the average life expectancy in the area is 80 years for men and 84 for women, which is slightly above the county and country average.

She said: “Quality of life is linked to good health. Good examples that encourage people to stay fit and healthy are the Mid Suffolk Leisure Centre facilities in Stowmarket and Stradbroke.

“However, even within an area like Mid Suffolk we must also recognise that inequalities in health exist and life expectancy for men living in the most deprived parts of Mid Suffolk is 3.2 years less than in affluent parts and this gap is 3.4 years for women.”

Focusing on education in St Edmundsbury, Geoff Barton, headteacher at King Edward VI School, in Bury, argued that the area offers pupils an academic life which is rich and diverse with a recognition that success reaches beyond the confines of the school exam hall.

He said: “What parents and students in the town appreciate is that we get really good results but without reducing ourselves to mere exam factories.

“We still believe in things that make school memorable like drama, sport and music which help youngsters have a well balanced view of education.”

Meanwhile, Katherine Puttick, the warden at RSPB Lakenheath Fen Reserve, commented that Forest Heath was an ideal area to fly the flag for environmental beauty.

She said: “It’s a fantastic area to live in and there’s lots of wildlife around. There are lots of rarities and specialities around here for people to see.”

Highlighting the vibrancy of a Babergh community such as Lavenham, Jacqui Hobbs, manager of the village hall, said: “It’s a close community so people care about each other. There are so many different activities, functions and clubs.

“It’s a nice environment where families can bring their children up. It’s very safe.”