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St.Helens is the UK's car friendliest town

  • St. Helens best for second year in a row but drivers in Cardiff, Oxford and Reading suffer
  • Virgin Money Car Insurance ranks the UK’s 65 biggest cities and towns on how they treat motorists

St. Helens has retained its crown as the UK’s most car-friendly town edging ahead of West Bromwich, Telford and Sutton Coldfield, according to new research from Virgin Money Car Insurance.

The Merseyside town was rated as best for UK motorists for the second year in Virgin Money’s nationwide study which has been monitoring how car friendly the UK’s towns and cities are since 2006.

West Bromwich raced up to second in the study representing a dramatic U-turn in the fortunes of its drivers having risen from 34th in 2010’s analysis, while Telford, twice rated as the top town, finished third out of the 65 towns surveyed with Sutton Coldfield and Sunderland also in the top five.

However motorists in Reading are suffering with the town rated the worst for drivers in this year’s study replacing London as the UK’s least car friendly town. Slough was also in the bottom five, accompanied by Oxford, Cardiff and Nottingham.

St. Helens scored well across the board on Virgin Money’s criteria, which include petrol prices, the cost of parking for two hours and the level of vehicle crime. Other factors taken into consideration included the number of speed cameras and the number of car parks in a town.

Grant Bather of Virgin Money said: “The cost of petrol has risen by almost 20% over the past year due to VAT and fuel duty increases, and combined with the constant issue of parking problems, speeding tickets and vehicle crime, the UK’s 24 million drivers can be forgiven for feeling as though they need to steer clear of urban areas.

“However, 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. Clearly cars shouldn’t rule the road, but motorists’ views certainly need to be taken into consideration and St. Helens has successfully done this.”

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

IN POLE POSITION

TOWN/CITYRANKING
St. Helens1
West Bromwich2
Telford3
Sutton Coldfield4
Sunderland5
Oldham6
Rotherham6
Stockport8
Norwich9
Swindon10

AT THE BACK OF THE GRID

TOWN/CITYRANKING
Reading65
Oxford64
Cardiff63
Slough62
Nottingham61
Edinburgh60
London59
Manchester58
Southampton57
Sheffield56

Full list of 65 towns and cities attached below.

Regional breakdown

Petrol price
Motorists looking for the best price on their petrol should head north of the border, according the Virgin Money’s analysis, with Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee ranking as the three cheapest locations to fill up. However, motorists in Oxford, Belfast, Cambridge and Crawley may want to shop around for their fuel, with their towns propping up the table for petrol value.

Cost of parking
Meanwhile, anyone brave enough to tackle central London by car can expect to pay the highest average parking costs in the UK - and that’s even before the £8 daily congestion charge is added. At the other end of the spectrum, motorists in Stockport, West Bromwich and Rotherham were revealed to have the cheapest car parks in the UK.

Number of car parks
When it comes to car parks, Oldham leads the way in volume, with Stockport, Norwich and Exeter all proving a wide choice for motorists. Motorists are more likely to struggle for car parking spaces in London, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Bristol and Leeds.

Vehicle crime
Colchester was the safest town for cars, followed by Exeter, Eastbourne, Belfast and St. Helens, while motorists need to be wary in Slough, Cardiff and Manchester.

Speed cameras
Stoke-on-Trent has the lowest proportion of Gatso speed cameras in the UK, followed by Milton Keynes, York and Aberdeen. At the other end of the spectrum, Blackburn, Blackpool, Reading and Southend-on-Sea were all revealed to be Gatso hot spots.

TOP 65 TOWNS AND CITIES

TOWN/CITYRANKINGRANK
St. Helens111.2
West Bromwich217.8
Telford318.2
Sutton Coldfield418.6
Sunderland519.0
Oldham620.2
Rotherham720.6
Stockport821.2
Norwich=923.0
Swindon=923.0
Middlesbrough1123.6
Dudley1223.8
Walsall1324.8
Plymouth1425.6
Huddersfield=1525.8
Wolverhampton=1525.8
Bournemouth1726.8
Blackburn1827.0
Ipswich1927.2
Derby2027.4
Portsmouth2127.6
Hull2228.4
Poole2329.0
Dundee2430.0
Exeter=2530.4
Watford=2530.4
Eastbourne2730.6
Bolton2831.0
Aberdeen2931.4
Newcastle3031.6
Stoke3132.0
Southend=3232.2
York=3232.2
Luton=3432.6
Peterborough=3432.6
Preston3634.2
Coventry3734.6
Crawley3834.8
Blackpool3935.0
Belfast4035.6
Bradford4135.8
Bristol=4236.2
Cambridge=4236.2
Leeds4437.0
Brighton=4537.2
Milton Keynes=4537.2
Swansea4737.6
Colchester4838.0
Glasgow4938.2
Liverpool5038.6
Birmingham5139.8
Gloucester5240.2
Leicester5340.4
Northampton5442.8
Newport5543.6
Sheffield5643.8
Southampton5744.0
Manchester5845.2
London5947.0
Edinburgh6047.2
Nottingham=6147.6
Slough=6147.6
Cardiff6347.8
Oxford6448.4
Reading6555.4

-Ends-

Notes to Editors

* Research conducted in February 2011 by Virgin Money researchers using publicly available sources including the Office of National Statistics, local council websites, www.upmystreet.co.uk 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

About Virgin Money

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