CIRENCESTER can take back its crown as capital of the Cotswolds after being included in a list of the top 30 places to live in the countryside.

The list, published by The Times, arrived a week after the Cotswold town was left off the newspaper’s poll of the best towns in the South West.

Coming in at number 22, Cirencester was recognised for its celebrity residents and bustling cultural calendar.

It said: “If it seems odd to pick the Cotswolds’ urban centre for a countryside round-up, it’s because this Roman market town has lots of music festivals, art exhibitions and shops but still feels rural without the kitsch of the villages nearby.”

The news was welcomed by Andrew Tubb, chief executive of Cirencester Town Council, who said that the town is one “to be very proud of”.

He said: “Many people and organisations deserve credit for this latest recognition in continuing to build on the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of the town and its community.”

Mr Tubb also drew attention to the findings of a recent Action for Market Towns survey which showed that only four per cent of commercial properties in the town are empty compared to the national average of 10 per cent.

Cirencester came under fire for being left off The Times’ previous list, with members of the Standard’s online community describing it as “tired, shoddy and dirty”.

Cotswold MP Geoffrey Clifton-Brown defended the town, saying it was a “really good gateway to Wales, the South and the West Midlands”.