Report’s positive outlook for Norfolk

Living in this region you are statistically less likely to be a Bridget Jones and more likely to have a nuclear family.

This is according to the latest Office for National Statistics “social indicators” for the Eastern region published yesterday – which include an eclectic mix of the latest crime, transport, population, labour and housing figures.

On balance they paint a rosy picture for the East of England.

Compared to other regions, the numbers say that we don’t have to deal with too much crime, we live longer and we don’t fare too badly on our average weekly income.

“This is statistical proof of something we have always known. Norfolk is a great place to live,” said Norfolk County Council leader Derrick Murphy.

“It has the lowest crime rates, a low birth rate outside marriage. One of the things that mothers are most concerned about is whether they are bringing children up somewhere that is a safe place to live.”

Mr Murphy said he was one of a number of people who had moved into the region because the quality of life. He was originally a Londoner and moved to Norfolk in 2004.

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“One of the reasons why I came to live here is because I’ve always loved the county. The village I live in is incredibly friendly,” he said.

Although he attributed the low crime figures in part to the work of the local police force, he said he also believed the regional “attitude” played a part.

“I think there is a strong feeling of wellbeing and community across the county,” he said.

“When people do have a strong community that will reflect itself in low rates of crime.”

But while on the whole we are faring well in the region, there are statistics which are not so positive for some local people. The region’s house prices are the third highest in the country.

Mr Murphy said: “The big concern I have, especially in west Norfolk, is the preponderance of second home owners. It is pricing local people out of the property market.”

The figures throw light on the make-up of households in East Anglia in 2009.

The region has the highest percentage of households with married or cohabiting couples with dependent children in England, and the lowest proportion of births outside marriage.

“We’ve got a very, very stable community and traditional views towards life,” said Mr Murphy.

“One of these indicators is the preponderance towards marriage. If people come from stable families they tend to follow that model.”

The Ven Jan McFarlane, spokesman for the Diocese of Norwich said: “These statistics show once again that we enjoy a high standard of living here in Norfolk.

“It’s interesting that we also have one of the highest proportions of married or cohabiting couples with dependent children, and a relatively low proportion of children born outside marriage. The recent Good Childhood Inquiry by the Children’s Society showed once again that children who enjoy good contact with both their parents, preferably in the same household, seem to thrive much better than children who don’t. That isn’t to criticise single parents who are often doing an excellent job in difficult circumstances, but might hint towards a link between the high proportion of stable families and the generally happier standard of living here in Norfolk.”

And on the flip side, fewer of us live on our own in the region with the household figures showing the East to have the lowest single occupancy in the country.

Of course, East Anglia is no utopia. Crime does exist, not everybody wants to live in a nuclear family and the new statistics show we travel further over the course of a year and our children’s schools are some of the furthest away. But as a rule of thumb, if you want to tell people how great this region is to live, let the figures speak for themselves.