MARKET towns and cities in North Yorkshire and County Durham have been declared some the best places to live in the country.

Harrogate has topped the Sunday Times Best Places to Live in the North East and Yorkshire list, followed in no particular order by Chester-le-Street, Durham, Helmsley, Leyburn, Richmond, Thirsk and York.

The accolade comes in part one of the Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide, published on Sunday, March 13.

It studied crime rates, house prices and school performance, to find the best quality of life to the widest number of people, combining desirable features such as a positive community spirit, good local shops and services and attractive outdoor spaces.

Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “For those of us lucky enough to call Yorkshire home, we all know what a fantastic place it is to live and work.

“We are not only blessed with some of the most breathtaking natural scenery in the world, but have an abundance of quaint villages, beautiful market towns and contemporary cities, which make it the ideal place to settle and raise a family.”

Mayor of Thirsk, Cllr Derek Adamson, said it was no surprise to him to see his town on the list: “It’s a warm, friendly place with nice people and one of the best market places in the country.

“I would 100 per cent agree it’s one of the best places to live.”

Mayor of Richmond, Cllr Clive World, added: “The history makes Richmond very special.

“We have a castle dating to 1071, museums and the oldest working theatre in the country – and the community spirit is remarkable.”