RIBBLE Valley has been officially named as the happiest place in the United Kingdom.

The Office of National Statistics personal wellbeing rating for 2018/19 gives the borough a happiness score of 8.3 out of 10 against a national average of 7.56.

It follows a consistently high performance since the data was first compiled in 2012/2013.

Ribble Valley’s success has been welcomed by its MP Nigel Evans, council leader Cllr Stephen Atkinson and borough tourism officer Tom Pridmore.

It outperformed other East Lancashire areas.

Blackburn with Darwen scored 7.7; Hyndburn 7.9; Burnley 7.2; Pendle 7.3; and Rossendale 7.6.

Mr Evans said: “It hardly surprises me that the Ribble Valley has been voted the happiest place in the UK. It’s a truly remarkable place and one I am proud to call my home.

“Here in the Ribble Valley we boast fantastic schools, great restaurants, pubs and amazing independent shops that people travel for miles to visit.

“But I must say that what sets the Ribble Valley apart is a true sense of community spirit. People here possess charming northern grit and say it as it is, meaning you are never in doubt as to where you stand – I think is this is beneficial for building a sense of community.

“With the Ribble Valley booming and more shops, bars and restaurants opening we must brace ourselves for more tourists.”

Mr Evans highlighted pubs and restaurants including The Inn at Whitewell, The Millstone at Mellor, The Parkers Arms and The Assheton Arms as well as award-winning shops such as Roy Porter’s butchers, Cowman’s Famous Sausage Shop and Byrnes’ wines merchant as among the borough’s attractions.

He also praised events such as Clitheroe’s Food Festival and Salesbury Hall’s Royal Lancashire Show for helping bring in more than four million visitors a year.

Cllr Atkinson said: “This is fantastic news. I expected the borough would be in the top ten but to be the happiest place in the UK is wonderful. We have beautiful countryside and lovely towns and villages.”

Mr Pridmore said: “I think the quality of the environment in Ribble Valley is the key along with its sense of community pride. It is not just a good place to live but a good place to visit. We manage tourism carefully so it does not spoil life for residents.”