Residents in ‘Britain’s unhappiest town’ say crime and gang activity has blighted their streets and keeps them from going out at night.
A longtime Hillingdon resident is not surprised the west London suburb – where celebrities including James Cordon and Ronnie Wood come from – was named one of the worst places to live in the country, alleging the area is ‘pretty rough’ and filled with ‘pickpockets, beggars and gangs’.
The west London borough – where the average house price is £483,556 – was yesterday revealed as Britain’s unhappiest place to live in Rightmove’s Happy at Home index.
Meanwhile, less than 10 miles away in Richmond-upon-Thames, locals welcomed the news it had been voted the happiest place to live in Britain, with one even claiming the area was ‘better’ than the south of France.
The southwest London borough, home to both Sir David Attenborough and Britain’s Got Talent’s Amanda Holden, scored points for its picturesque green spaces and strong sense of belonging.
But it’s not a cheap enclave of the capital, with house prices averaging £952,305.
Margaret Ward (pictured) who lives in Uxbridge said she thought the survey result was ‘bonkers’
Richmond upon Thames has been voted the happiest place to live in Britain, followed by Winchester and Monmouth
The Chimes shopping centre in Uxbridge
Uxbridge, a borough in Hillingdon
|Average monthly rent
|1 Richmond upon Thames
2 Winchester, Hampshire
3 Monmouth, Wales 4 Wokingham, Berkshire 5 Cirencester, Gloucestershire6 Skipton, Yorkshire 7 Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire8 Kensington and Chelsea, London 9 St Ives, Cornwall 10 Hexham, Northumberland
However, others reacted with surprise to the news that Hillingdon had been voted ‘Britain’s unhappiest town’.
Uxbridge local Margaret Ward, 31, said: ‘I think it’s bonkers that Hillingdon came out last. I came here as a baby and it’s a really homely place to live. Whenever I go on holiday I am always aching to get back home.’
‘We have everything on our doorstep here, and I can walk to the shopping centre that has every kind of shop you might need.
‘The only thing that is not great is the introduction of the new ULEZ tax locally.’
Friends Carol Toombes, 75, and Donna Norman, 63, were also shocked to hear their borough sank to last in the ratings.
Sipping mulled wine from a stand in the nearby Christmas market, Carol, from Uxbridge, said: ‘Look around you, it’s a fantastic place to live. I can’t believe that so many people here claim to be unhappy.
‘It’s got everything you need, and has brilliant amenities for OAPS. I love using my Hillingdon resident card to get discounts.’
Carol said the only thing she was sad about was the fact that Boris Johnson was no longer the MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
Donna, who brought up her family in nearby Ickenham, added: ‘The open spaces here are great, and were especially so during lockdown.
‘We have an excellent leisure centre and a local lido, and some great parks. The centre of London is on our doorstep, so is Windsor Castle, and if we ever need to go anywhere, we can jump on the M25.’
Donna Norman, 63, (pictured) was also shocked to hear her borough sank to last in the ratings
Ilva Henderson, 74, (pictured) has lived in Uxbridge since 2010 and said she loved the ‘community spirit’
Ilva Henderson, 74, has lived in Uxbridge since 2010, and used to work as admin clerk before retiring.
‘When I first came here from Fulham, I found it very quiet. But I love the community spirit here and the facilities like the local libraries are great,’ she said.
She said that she found the results of the survey ‘really odd’ adding that Hillingdon won a Green Flag award earlier this year for being the greenest borough in London for the eleventh year running.
One resident, 74-year-old Malcolm John Innes – who used to work as a groundsman at Brunel University – has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said the area has gone down hill.
Malcolm John Innes (pictured) has lived in Uxbridge for over 30 years and said the area has gone down hill
South Ruislip (pictured) is one of the areas that comes under the borough of Hillingdon, which was ranked the unhappiest place to live
Sleeping bags, cardboard, a mug and some rubbish is pictured under shelter in Uxbridge
West Drayton (pictured) is one of the areas that comes under the borough o fHillingdon, which was ranked the unhappiest place to live
The average price for a house in Richmond upon Thames (pictured) is an eyewatering £952,305, while runner-up Winchester has a significantly lower average of £571,613
John Osborne (pictured), who has lived in the town of Richmond for 43 years said he was not surprised as it is a ‘lovely town’
He said: ‘The crime rate here is pretty bad. It’s pretty rough in many of the town centres, and there are pickpockets, beggars and gangs around. I certainly would not go out here at night.’
On the other side of the capital, it was the first time Richmond upon Thames has topped the ‘happy at home’ poll conducted by Rightmove – which asked more than 26,000 people how they feel about where they live.
John Osborne, who has lived in the town of Richmond for 43 years, said: ‘I am not at all surprised. It’s a lovely town.
‘Apart from the high street you only have to look around to see all the green spaces we can enjoy. I regularly enjoy a visit to the Isabella Plantation in Richmond Park.’
Mr Osborne, 76, who brought up his family in the town and whose children attended local schools, added: ‘The community spirit is great here, you don’t actually need to leave as it’s all on your doorstep, including two excellent theatres.’
Elizabeth Ward, 67, originally from Belgium, has lived in Richmond for 15 years and said it’s a ‘fantastic place to live’
Richmond (pictured) is home to both Sir David Attenborough and Britain’s Got Talent ‘s Amanda Holden
Richmond upon Thames features more than 500 hectares of green areas such as Kew Gardens and Bushy Park, and is also home to attractions such as Hampton Court Palace.
Elizabeth Ward, 67, originally from Belgium, has shared a flat in Richmond for 15 years with her British lecturer husband.
She said: ‘I love it here. We also have a house in the South of France, but every time I come back here, I literally punch the air. It is a fantastic place to live, and it makes me happy being here.’
The book editor added: ‘Yes the South of France has good weather, but there are things better here, if you don’t mind the cold and rain. For example, I am vegetarian and the restaurants are amazing here.’
Richmond Upon Thames is known for its green spaces. Pictures here are deer in Bushy Park
The borough of Richmond is home to Kew Gardens (pictured), a world renowned green space which royalty from around the world have visited
And Janet Lewis, from nearby Kingston (covered under the borough of Kingston upon Thames) said: ‘It’s a very expensive place to live. When my children were young we took them to the local pantomime, and all the independent shops and boutiques here are amazing.’
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘I’m delighted for Richmond to win this award.
‘It has so much of what makes London so special – its access to beautiful green spaces, its real sense of community, and an array of shops, cafes and local culture that makes it stand out.’
Dawn Platt, associate director of Chesterton’s Richmond branch, said: ‘Richmond really has got it all. Access to nature, schools, entertainment, good eateries, bars and shops.’
Last year’s winner, St Ives in Cornwall, fell further down the list in ninth place this year.
The average price of a house in St Ives is £515,352 – significantly lower than Richmond upon Thames’ average.