COMMUNITY-spirit, friendliness and its close proximity to countryside and big cities are just some the reasons Stourbridge has been named the happiest place to live in the region.

The town has also been ranked the 20th happiest place in Britain, according to analysis by property website Rightmove.

Dudley, meanwhile, was rated the least happy place in the region at number 17 and the town falls towards the bottom of the rankings for the entire country – at 210th place.

London’s Richmond upon Thames was crowned the happiest place to live by those that live there by respondents to Rightmove’s Happy at Home study which was completed by more than 26,000 residents across the country.

Winchester in Hampshire came second, and Monmouth in Wales was third.

The results showed the most important contributors to happiness were feeling a sense of pride, belonging and community.

Access to green space and nature was also rated as important, with those living in a rural area near a national park, or an area of outstanding natural beauty, more likely to feel happy where they live.

Stourbridge councillor Cat Eccles, who lives in Stourbridge and has been selected by the Labour Party to represent the constituency in the forthcoming General Election, said: “I think Stourbridge is a great place to live.

"We’ve got a wonderful community. Everyone’s really friendly; people say hello to you – you wouldn’t get that everywhere you go.”

She added: “It’s hard times for everyone at the moment. We do need to look at the nice things we’ve got and appreciate them.

“We’re close to the countryside and Birmingham, Wolverhampton and other cities.

“I feel really grateful to live here and others should too.”

In Dudley, however, Labour councillor Shaukat Ali said it was understandable why people said they felt unhappy.

He said: “There are a number of factors contributing to this.

“There’s the cost-of-living crisis which is having an effect on people in terms of putting food on the table. Also, if you look at the north and south of the borough – this side is deprived, whereas the south is more affluent.

“I think people feel neglected by the Tory government and Tory council; we know the financial crisis the council is in.

“Then there’s the regeneration part – it’s been going on and on and it hasn’t materialised.”

He added: “If you walk up and down Dudley High Street you see how neglected it is. The pavements are sunken, shops have closed.

“All of this contributes to people’s feelings – it feels let down. When you see the state of it you do feel low.”

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said it was not worth paying too much attention to such surveys and he told the News: “It depends who you ask. I don’t tend to take much notice of these things and put them in the wastepaper bin.

“Dudley’s a great place to live. We’ve got some great towns that make up the whole borough.”

He pointed to the regeneration that has been going on in Dudley town centre such as the work to bring the Metro into borough, plans to create a hospitality quarter in Stone Street Square and a bid to bring an ice rink to the town.

He added: “There’s a lot to be excited about, particularly for the town centre.”