SOME might beg to differ, but Stockton has been named the sixth best place to live in England and Wales.

The Daily Telegraph examined more than 7,137 council districts across the country taking into account latest statistics on average incomes, crime rates, economic activity and health.

Northumberland was rated fourth, County Durham came in 5,836th place, Middlesbrough 6,992nd and Darlington 5, 674th while Hambleton in North Yorkshire, which includes Northallerton, was rated 2,111th.

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Top of the Telegraph's chart was Test Valley, Hampshire, while Grimsby fared worst.

Stockton borough doesn't have a reputation as wealthy, but surrounding areas, like Wynyard, Yarm, Eaglescliffe and the villages to the west of the town are "well-to-do".

In fact, a health profile used by the NHS since 2012, showed that more than 30 per cent of the Stockton borough population were in the richest fifth of the population for wealth, compared to 20 per cent of the population of England.

However, the same report also showed there was a higher number of Stockton people, nearly 25 per cent, in the lowest category for wealth compared to an England average of under 20 per cent.

Councillor Jim Beall, Labour, deputy leader of Stockton Borough Council, said there had always been a greater disparity in wealth across the district than in other areas.

He said: "I remember the former Prime Minister, Harold MacMillan, making a speech in the House of Lords when he was made Earl of Stockton.

"He talked about us being 'two nations' then and he used statistics from Stockton as a particularly bad case and this is going back 30 years.

"Other places have 90 per cent in the middle and five per cent at the top and five per cent at the bottom, but we're very different. I don't know why. I need to look at these figures but I'd say we'd rather be in the top six than bottom, anyway."

Cllr Beall rejected the idea of taxing the people at the top more to help those at the bottom, saying it was more important to offer support for those with the least chances.

Peter Patey, who has run The Buttery newsagent on Dovecott Street for 20 years, said: "This must have been done by the same people who said Gaza is the best place to live in the world. The place has got worse these last five years thanks to absentee landlords."