Wakefield named “worst place to live” - but we love it here!

The east side of Wakefield
The east side of Wakefield

Councillors, community leaders and people living in Wakefield have hit out after a report ranked the district as the worst place to live in the country.

The district was ranked bottom place according to a table produced in The 2015 Good Growth for Cities Index, an annual report which measures the performance of the UK’s largest cities.

Coun Denise Jeffery in Castleford town centre

Coun Denise Jeffery in Castleford town centre

The research was carried out by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) and think-tank Demos, with the criteria for deciding the best places to live and work including housing affordability, employment rates, income and skills, commuting times and environment.

But people living in our area have hit back at PwC and said the district is a great place to live.

Denise Jeffery, deputy leader of Wakefield Council and cabinet member for regenartion, said: “I absolutely love Castleford and Wakefield and I think they are a great places to live and work.

“The one thing that makes the town and city what they are is the sense of community spirit there is. They are amazing places.”

Council chief executive Joanne Roney

Council chief executive Joanne Roney

Work is underway on Wakefield’s £33m Eastern Relief Road and which will support 2,500 homes as part of the City Fields development.

Coun Jeffery said: “The district is growing. We have got a lot developers developing, investors investing which shows that it is a good place to live.

“There are thousands of homes being built across Wakefield and Castleford and developers don’t build homes if people aren’t interested in buying them. Our district is the place to be.”

Leading Wakefield estate agent Richard Kendall agreed.

He said: “We have seen the demise of mining throughout a lot of Wakefield communities. But with the help of the local authority, new employment has been created and people are staying in the city to live and work. There is a lot of building work going on and people are buying the properties.”

In Castleford, a £44.5m scheme to build thousands of new homes and transform town is also being carried out.

Developer Lateral Property Group was also granted consent for the £135m Five Towns Park - which will include a new stadium for Castleford Tigers, a retail park and a food store - earlier this year.

Wakefield Council’s chief executive Joanne Roney said the district had plenty to celebrate.

She said: “This report does not say that Wakefield and Castleford are not good places to live. It shows that we all need to carry on addressing long-term economic issues, affecting our district, like the level of skills, the range of jobs and higher wages.

“Over the last few years, we have secured strong economic growth, by attracting new jobs, business and investors. The next stage is to increase the quality of those jobs, raising skills and improving connectivity - something we are already doing as part of the Leeds City Region. This is why we have been so determined to bring the university centre to the district. There is no doubt that we have faced tough times over recent years but we are making progress.

“Our city and town centres have seen massive regeneration investment and we are building new roads to improve the already excellent transport links. We are home to an internationally acclaimed art gallery and sculpture park, which attract over a million visitors to this district. And we have seen major retail investment delivered at Trinity Walk, and planned for the future in the Five Towns Park.

“I believe we have plenty to celebrate in this district and have the long-term ambition to secure a future that will benefit everyone.”