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St. Helens is the UK's car friendliest town

  • But motorists in London, Reading and Manchester are driven to despair
  • Virgin Money Car Insurance ranks the UK’s 65 biggest cities and towns on how they treat motorists

Saint Helens has been crowned the UK’s most car-friendly town, edging out competition from Telford, Blackburn and Dudley, according to new research from Virgin Money Car Insurance.

The Merseyside town was rated the nation’s best for motorists in Virgin Money’s nationwide research. St. Helens ended Telford’s two year reign at the top of the survey that has been monitoring how car-friendly the UK’s towns and cities are since 2006.

It scored well across the board on the criteria used by researchers including petrol prices, the cost of parking for two hours and the number of speed cameras on main roads into the town or city. The Virgin Money researchers, who assessed the UK’s 65 largest towns and cities, also took into consideration the number of car parks and the level of car crime, weighted to reflect the population numbers.

London’s long-suffering drivers were left rueing life in the fast lane. The capital’s estimated 600 speed cameras contributed to its downfall, and as a result the capital city propped up the table for the third year running. Manchester, Reading and Glasgow were also near the bottom, and were all rated as unfriendly for drivers ¬with Watford, Slough and Bournemouth also scoring badly.

Grant Bather of Virgin Money said: “The UK’s 24 million motorists are often driven to distraction by the frustrations of driving with parking problems, petrol prices and speeding tickets among the biggest issues.

“But not all towns and cities are the same and many local authorities do their best to ensure drivers aren’t treated like second-class citizens. Cars shouldn’t rule the road but motorists’ views need to be taken into consideration.

“Of course everyone will have their own definition of driving hell whether it is hunting for a parking space, being stuck in a traffic jam or being caught by a speed camera. Our research attempts to show which cities and towns are best and worst for drivers.”

The 10 most car-friendly towns are listed below along with the 10 least friendly:

IN POLE POSITION

TOWN/CITYRANKING
St. Helens1
Telford2
Blackburn3
Dudley4
Derby5
Ipswich6
Sunderland6
Eastbourne8
Colchester9
Rotherham10

AT THE BACK OF THE GRID

TOWN/CITYRANKING
London65
Manchester64
Reading63
Glasgow62
Watford61
Slough60
Bournemouth59
Leeds58
Bristol57
Swansea56

Full list of 65 towns and cities attached below

The best towns and cities for cheap parking are Telford, Blackburn, Stockport, Dudley and Poole while the most expensive include London, Swindon, Manchester, Edinburgh and Oxford.

Slough emerges as the best city for number of car parks per 1,000 people just ahead of Gloucester, Poole, Reading and Southend. Motorists are more likely to struggle for car parking spaces in London, Birmingham and Dundee.

The best towns and cities for petrol prices include Blackburn, Derby, Blackpool and Cardiff while the most expensive fuel is found in London, Poole, Crawley and Bournemouth.

Colchester, Dudley, Eastbourne, Exeter and St. Helens are the best for car crime while motorists are most at risk in Glasgow, Slough, Cardiff and Manchester.

TOP 65 TOWNS AND CITIES


TOWN

RANKING

SCORE

St. Helens

1

5

Telford

2

11

Blackburn

3

15

Dudley

4

15

Derby

5

18

Ipswich

6

18

Sunderland

7

21

Eastbourne

8

22

Colchester

9

23

Rotherham

10

24

Middlesbrough

11

24

Blackpool

12

24

Poole

13

26

Bradford

14

26

Oldham

14

26

Sutton Coldfield

16

27

Huddersfield

17

27

Crawley

18

27

Southend

19

28

Bolton

20

28

Walsall

20

28

Aberdeen

22

28

Stockport

23

30

Dundee

24

30

Plymouth

25

31

Newcastle

26

31

Newport

27

31

Norwich

28

31

Belfast

29

32

Hull

30

32

Gloucester

31

32

Leicester

31

32

Wolverhampton

33

32

Coventry

34

32

West Bromwich

34

32

Swindon

36

33

Portsmouth

37

33

Stoke

38

33

Exeter

39

34

York

39

34

Preston

41

34

Southampton

42

35

Birmingham

43

35

Northampton

44

36

Milton Keynes

45

37

Cardiff

46

37

Luton

47

38

Oxford

47

38

Edinburgh

49

38

Peterborough

50

38

Cambridge

51

39

Brighton and Hove

52

39

Sheffield

53

40

Liverpool

54

41

Nottingham

55

41

Swansea

56

41

Bristol

57

41

Leeds

58

41

Bournemouth

59

46

Slough

60

48

Watford

60

48

Glasgow

62

50

Reading

63

51

Manchester

64

52

London

65

58


-Ends-

* Research conducted in June 2010 by Virgin Money researchers using publicly available sources including the Office of National Statistics, local council websites, NCP’s website, the Association of British Drivers and www.petrolprices.com. Totals for each town/city were calculated using rankings for petrol prices, the cost of parking for two hours, numbers of congestion alerts, vehicle crime statistics, numbers of council car parks and number of speed cameras on major routes into the town or city.

For further information

Grant Bather
Virgin Money
Tel: 07834 844 427

Kevan Reilly / Chris Jarvis / Toby Clark 
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
Tel: 0207 638 9571

Football Supporters’ Federation
Malcolm Clarke 07939 594379
Steven Powell 07881 950613

About Virgin Money:

  • Virgin Money is Virgin’s financial services arm and was established in 1995 as a joint venture between the Virgin Group and Norwich Union.
  • In 1997, Virgin Direct Personal Financial Services Limited launched The Virgin One Account, a joint venture with The Royal Bank of Scotland that offered the UK’s first current account mortgage direct to the retail market. In 2001, RBS bought out the Virgin Group’s stake in the joint venture.
  • In April 2004 the Virgin Group took 100% ownership of Virgin Money.
  • More than 2.5 million customers are currently serviced through the Virgin Money brand, which offers Payment Cards (Credit Cards & Prepaid Cards), Savings and Investment products (Stakeholder Pensions, Children’s Pensions, Employers Pensions, FTSE Tracker ISA, Bond & Gilt ISA, Climate Change ISA, Cash ISA, and Unit Trusts), General Insurance products (Motor, Home, Travel, and Pet) and Life Assurance products to the UK market.
  • Virgin Money’s brand ambition is to make “everyone better off” – this philosophy underpins our approach to business by offering good value to customers, treating employees well, making a positive contribution to society and delivering a profit to shareholders.
  • Virgin has signed a five-year deal to be the official sponsor of the London Marathon, the biggest annual fundraising event in the world. The inaugural Virgin London Marathon is on 25 April 2010. Virgin Money, the financial services division of the Virgin Group is leading the London Marathon sponsorship with the ambition to help runners raise £¼ billion over 5 years and will use its infrastructure, online capability and financial expertise to deliver that through Virgin Money Giving.
  • Bank of America Europe Card Services provides the Virgin Credit Card range.

About The Football Fans’ Census:

The Football Fans Census is Europe’s leading football research expert. With over 100,000 members, the FFC provides a communication channel between the supporter and the football industry.

About the Football Supporters’ Federation

The FSF represents over 142,000 members supporting clubs and national teams at all levels throughout England & Wales.

www.fsf.org.uk