POOLE has been voted the happiest place to live in the south west, and the ninth happiest town in the UK.

In the same survey Bournemouth was rated tenth happiest regionally and 56th nationally.

The 'Happy at Home' survey, by property website Right Move, was compiled after 17,000 people rated how happy they were with aspects of where they live.

Community spirit, feeling safe, the friendliness of locals, the amenities and local services available were among the criteria.

Earning enough money to live comfortably was also taken into account.

Poole Mayor Lindsay Wilson said: "As someone who was born and raised in Poole, I am immensely proud that the town has been named on this list.

"A sense of community spirit and social inclusion is something we strive to encourage in Poole and the results of this survey show that we're all playing our part in the locality."

The Echo also spoke to shoppers in Poole town centre to gauge opinion.

Fred Madison, from Canford Heath, said: "A lot of people knock Poole, but if you take a step back to appreciate what we have here, it is pretty impressive.

"We have a great historical centre and quayside, and we're on the doorstep of the biggest natural harbour in Europe. It is a great place to live."

Another resident said: "I doubt everyone living here will feel that way, it certainly is a town with a huge gulf between the rich and the poor. But it is important to remember it is doing better than lots of other places.

"I'm happy we beat Bournemouth as well."

Top of the list for the UK were Royal Leamington Spa,Warwickshire; Leigh-on-Sea, Essex; Wirral, Merseyside and Cheshire.