Cheer up! You live in a great place

Cheer up! It might be hard to find a reason to smile at the moment, with the country in the grip of recession and the cold, grey days of winter continuing with monotonous regularity.

Cheer up! It might be hard to find a reason to smile at the moment, with the country in the grip of recession and the cold, grey days of winter continuing with monotonous regularity.

But East Anglia is still a great place to live, according to a new survey.

It may come as no surprise to the majority of residents, but Norfolk is officially the eighth best county in the country, with Suffolk ranked just one position behind - according to a league table of counties published by Country Life.

Norfolk leapfrogged its southern neighbour to claim bragging rights as the best county in the East within a list of 19 indicators.

Officials from both Suffolk and Norfolk spoke of their delight after featuring highly in the quality of life survey of all 40 counties in England, which they hope will provide a boost to tourism and the economy.

The Country Life survey, which was last compiled in 2003, used statistics from sources such as the Campaign to Protect Rural England, the Met Office, Defra, Natural England, and local authorities to assess the quality of each area's social fabric, heritage, landscape, wildlife, pubs, restaurants, local food and number of sunshine hours. It also took into account the number of village greens, property prices, recycling rates, and the number of residents in Who's Who.

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The results showed that Suffolk dropped from eighth to ninth in the overall league tables, while Norfolk jumped from 12th to claim its neighbour's previous position. Cambridgeshire climbed from 19th to 15th.

Devon retained its place at the top of the tree and East Yorkshire found itself with the wooden spoon.

Daniel Cox, leader of Norfolk County Council, said it was “heartening” that the county had climbed four places.

“I also note, albeit somewhat parochially, we are rightly regarded as the premier county in East Anglia! These things should never be taken too seriously. However, with our incredible landscape, strong arts provision, improving schools, brilliant local food and many other positives, there are very many reasons why Norfolk should stand at the very top of the table - and to be seen by business leaders as an ideal place in which to live and work,” he said.

Highlights of the Country Life survey include Suffolk coming third for best council performance and council tax, whilst Norfolk was ranked second for its arts provision and second in the number of local food producers in the county. The two counties also featured highly in the number of pubs in the Good Pub Guide 2008, village greens, and average hours of sunshine.

Michael Nutt, managing director of Visit Norwich, said many people would place Norfolk higher up the Country Life survey.

“I think it is always very pleasing that Norwich and Norfolk is moving up the rankings and it is really positive and exciting news.

The fact we are ranked highly in terms of arts and culture and local food reflects the strong attributes of the county and are very good reasons for people to visit,” he said.

Jeremy Pembroke, leader of Suffolk County Council, added: “Suffolk is a wonderful place to live and work, I am very proud of its qualities and people. It's gratifying that Suffolk people are happy with the quality of services they receive from councils in Suffolk. This is a great achievement, but we must aim for continuous improvement, always looking for new, innovative ways of working, and getting the most out of every penny we spend.”