Skipton has been named as the happiest place in Yorkshire and Humberside in a new national survey.
The town is rated above Harrogate and York in the Rightmove happiness index, which looks at many factors including a sense of community and feeling of safety.
While few in the town will be surprised at the accolade, those behind Skipton BID believe that its work over the last ten years has played a significant part in improving the sense of wellbeing and quality of life that such surveys recognise.
Skipton has often been in the limelight for its high placing in such surveys, and last year was named the happiest place to live in Britain by the Office of National Statistics.
That title saw national television and press coverage, and even made headlines in the New York Times.
Amanda May, Branch Manager of Dale Eddison estate agents in the town, said Skipton has won accolade after accolade including being named the happiest place to live in Britain by the Office of National Statistics last year, being voted as the best place to retire in 2012, and named the best place to live by The Sunday Times in 2014.
And she said the work of the BID played a big part in helping to create the sense of community and vibrancy that makes the town such a special place.
“Here at Dale Eddison we talk to many people, locally and from away, who tell us why they’ve chosen Skipton, and we consistently hear that they warm to the sense of community and vibrancy felt here, not just in the town but in the surrounding area too,” she said.
“And for us, Skipton BID plays an enormous role in achieving that, which is why we wholeheartedly support the scheme. The BID brings events and support to the town’s businesses which permeate way beyond the High Street, into people’s homes and sense of enjoyment achieved from living here, and that makes for a happy, special and thriving environment.”
And one of the town’s biggest employers, Computershare Loan Services, also gave their backing to the work of the BID.
Chief Executive Officer Andrew Jones said: ”Skipton is well-placed to attract high-calibre employees, and provides a great business location for workers and visitors alike, given its train links and surrounding countryside.
“We are impressed by the work Skipton BID undertakes to support businesses such as ours in the town.”
BID Manager Geraldine Thompson says there is no doubt that Skipton is one of the best places in the country to live – but she stresses that it is something that has to be worked on.
“It was brilliant to see the whole town come together recently for the Christmas Lights switch on event, and that was a fantastic example of the sense of community Skipton has,” she said.
“But that event was only possible thanks to the commitment and hard work of many, many, people and individuals, including ourselves at the BID, Skipton Town Council, The Rotary Club of Skipton Craven, Pennine Cruisers Santa’s Grotto, Dacres Skipton, Stray FM and all the many people who gave up their time to get involved.”
She said the many other events throughout the year, including Sheep Day, Skipton Waterway Festival and the Skipton International Puppet Festival, were heavily supported by the BID – and would likely to be either reduced in scale or lost completely if the BID went.
Rightmove’s annual Happy at Home Index, which asks residents how happy they are where they live, is based on 12 happiness factors, and looks at 219 areas across Great Britain.
As well as being top in Yorkshire and Humberside, Skipton came out 15th overall for the whole country.
The happiness factors people include a sense of community spirit; feeling safe; sports and recreational activities; artistic and cultural activities; nature and green spaces; and amenities such as shops and restaurants.
In terms of safety, the BID played a key role in setting up and running the Skipton Crime Reduction Partnership and has recently funded the installation of CCTV cameras in the town.
Sgt Paul Evans of Skipton Police has said of the BID: “It’s been huge and really have made a big difference in helping us reduce crime and disorder in Skipton.”
The many events the BID supports, along with grants given to local organisations including Friends of Aireville Park for work on the brand new play area, The Coulthurst Craven Sports Centre for their all weather pitch, Team Ketchup for their Kids Comic Collective, Craven Development Education Centre and many more, contribute to both the artistic and cultural activities section and the recreational activities.
And the work funded by the support given to Skipton in Bloom undoubtedly contributes hugely to green spaces and amenities category.
“Skipton is a brilliant place to live and work. The people who live here already know that, and it’s growing reputation is one of the reasons people want to visit and come and live here,” said Geraldine.
“But we have to keep working on maintaining that quality of life. We want to be given the chance to invest £800,000 of BID levy money on improving the town still further over the next five years.
“And hopefully by the end of that period, we won’t just be regarded as the best place to live in Yorkshire, but as the best place to live in the whole country.”
Why I support the BID
David Roberts, of Hettie’s Café Bistro on High Street, is a keen supporter of the work of the BID.
“I’m unequivocal about my backing for the BID. It is not just for the people on the on the High Street retailer; typical footfall analysis shows how all businesses are affected by the percentage change in footfall, be that up or down wherever the business location.
“Without the BID there would be no centralised funding for the marketing of Skipton. The BID ensures that there is a meaningful, well-funded and coordinated voice feeding into the local authorities.
“The BID’s work plays a large part in drawing people into the town. The cost of the levy is very, very cost effective.
“The work it does helps to make the town a much more pleasant environment, and that has got to have a positive impact on the quality of life of everyone who lives, works, visits and shops here.”