A SURVEY has ranked Redditch as the worst place to live in Worcestershire.
The annual Quality of Life report, produced by Halifax bank, puts the borough as the 171st best place to live in the country – 115 places below Malvern Hills which offers the best quality of life in the county according to the report and over 160 places behind Warwick which is the best place to live in the West Midlands.
The research ranks council areas on a range of indicators including jobs, the housing market, education, health and crime as well as the weather, traffic flows and broadband access.
Although Redditch performs well in some areas its ranking appears to have been affected by the low wages workers earn.The average weekly wage is £504, the lowest in the West Midlands and over £100 less than Malvern and £200 less than Warwick.
Redditch residents also have the lowest life satisfaction in the region with a score of 7.3, are joint bottom for believing their lives are worthwhile but are amongst the least anxious.
The average life expectancy for men of 78.6, is also about three years lower than neighbouring Stratford upon Avon and Wychavon.
Only 27 per cent of over 16-year-olds have qualifications, the second lowest in the West Midlands, compared to more than 50 per cent in Warwick.
However there is some good news as the borough’s crime rate is lower than many areas including Warwick, Worcester and Solihull.
Council leader Bill Hartnett said Redditch was a low wage economy and they were trying to improve that by attracting highly skilled and well paid jobs to the borough as part of the development of the Winyates East gateway project.
But he said he did not accept Redditch was the worst place to live in Worcestershire.
“I don’t recognise that at all. It’s the criteria Halifax have come up with but it’s not the criteria I would judge Redditch by.” he said.
“We’ve got no traffic compared with Worcester or other areas, there’s free swimming for under-16s and over 65s, free 9.30am bus passes, we have got our own theatre, a cinema, leisure facilities – there are lots of good things in Redditch it depends what criteria you use.”