LEADING figures in Cirencester have defended the town after it received an online bashing from people who believe it is no longer the jewel in the crown of the Cotswolds.

The negative comments were left on the Standard’s website after it was revealed that Cirencester was omitted from the Sunday Times’ list of the top places to live in the South West.

In fact, among the 15 places included in the list, the only Cotswold town to feature was Nailsworth in the Stroud valleys.

The news caused commotion in the Standard’s online community with many users giving their opinion on why the town was left off the list.

Shortly after the list was published, however, The Times issued another poll of the top 30 places to live in the countryside with Cirencester coming in at number 22.

The national newspaper praised the town's Roman market, music festivals, art exhibitions and independent shops.

Geoff66 wrote: “Cirencester is no longer a fine example of a beautiful Cotswold market town. It has become tired, shoddy and dirty and, as a result, it is failing to attract visitors and shoppers.”

Meanwhile another user, Iansky, said that Cirencester is on a “slow demise” and that the town “will never recover the prestige it once had”.

Despite the criticism, Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown said that Cirencester is a “special town” with a lot for its residents to be proud of.

“Its architecture is unique, it has a very special church, a caring hospital, excellent schools and a good range of high quality shops,” he said.

“There is an excellent mix of cultural activities with the Brewery Arts, the Corinium Museum and, soon, a new multiplex cinema.”

The MP also drew attention to Cirencester’s low unemployment rates for which, he said, makes the town “an attractive place for businesses to locate and a town in which to live”.

Last year the Standard revealed that prime rents in Cirencester were up 23 per cent and that the town was currently sitting sixth in a nationwide league table of best-performing retail locations.

Have your say in the online debate by visiting www.wiltsglosstandard.co.uk.