Posted: 30th April 2018, 6:14pm



St Albans has been named in the top 20 most ‘vibrant’ places in England with the best balance between economic growth, innovation, social equality, health and happiness, in new research from business and financial advisory firm, Grant Thornton UK LLP.


The firm’s Vibrant Economy Index* measures how the 324 local authority areas in England compare across a range of economic and social indicators. Nationally, St Albans ranked 16 out of 324, while Welwyn Hatfield ranked just outside the top 20 at 23. Both East Hertfordshire and North Hertfordshire also featured in the top 20% at 38 and 43 respectively.


Cambridge held on to first place for the fifth successive year as the most vibrant place in England. Camden, London came in second, with Westminster ranking third, Wokingham fourth and Richmond on Thames fifth.


St Albans also featured in the national top 20 for residents’ ‘health, wellbeing and happiness’, ranking at 14. East Hertfordshire also made the top 20 for this indicator at 18, while North Hertfordshire (30), Welwyn Hatfield (41) and Three Rivers (49) all performed in the top 20% nationally.


Additionally, St Albans made the national top ten for ‘community, trust and belonging’ which measures quality of culture and how safe and engaged people feel in their community, ranking at 8. North Hertfordshire (27), Hertsmere (53), East Hertfordshire (55) and Watford (63) all featured in the top 20%.


In terms of ‘prosperity’, eight of the ten local authority areas in Hertfordshire scored above the national average, with Three Rivers leading the way (27 out of 324), followed by Watford (47) and Dacorum (51).


However, the performance of some local authority areas in the county underline one of the Index’s key national findings that higher levels of wealth do not necessarily translate into creating inclusive, happy and healthy places to live.


Broxbourne ranks above the national average for prosperity (76) but well below for health, wellbeing and happiness (248), and community, trust and belonging (196). Equally, both Hertsmere and Stevenage perform strongly in terms of prosperity, ranking 62 and 65 respectively, but fall behind on health, wellbeing and happiness, at 314 and 219.


Jeremy Read, partner at Grant Thornton St Albans, said: “A successful economy is one that does more than just generate jobs and wealth; it should provide opportunities for everyone. This is the belief behind the Vibrant Economy Index and by focussing on more than just economic prosperity and growth, we can tackle issues which could make a real difference to the quality and productiveness of our society.


“It comes as no surprise to see St Albans feature so highly in the Index, underlining that the City’s strengths run far deeper than economic growth. Our thriving, innovative business sector is coupled with a lively culture and strong sense of community belonging which positively impacts the health and wellbeing of residents. All this makes St Albans a great place to live and work.


“However, looking at the broader county, it is clear that higher levels of prosperity do not always equal better quality of life; a pattern which the Index findings have found plays out across the country.”


Looking at ‘dynamism and opportunity’ which measures levels of skills, innovation and entrepreneurship, Welwyn Hatfield featured in the national top ten, ranking at 6. St Albans, Hertsmere, North Hertfordshire, Stevenage and East Hertfordshire also performed above the national average for this indicator.


For ‘resilience and sustainability’, a measurement of how the economy impacts on the natural environment, East Hertfordshire led the way, featuring in the top 20% nationally at 26. St Albans, North Hertfordshire and Hertsmere were also above average performers.


The South East as a whole was identified as the most vibrant region in England with almost half (31) of the 67 local authority areas featuring in the top 20%. The Index findings reveal a clear east-west divide with the west of the region notably more vibrant than the east, particularly in terms of inclusion and equality.


Jeremy Read concluded: “No single organisation or person can shoulder the task of creating a more vibrant, inclusive economy. This is something we need to work on together, drawing on the many strengths and resources we have available across our community to generate positive change which will be productive for all.”


England’s top 10 most vibrant local authority areas:

  1. Cambridge
  2. Camden
  3. Westminster
  4. Wokingham
  5. Richmond Upon Thames
  6. Windsor & Maidenhead
  7. Vale of White Horse
  8. South Cambridgeshire
  9. Oxford
  10. Guildford




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