WEST Mersea has been named as one of the best places to live in the East of England by a national newspaper.

The island has made the top ten in the annual Sunday Times Best Places to Live Guide.

Judges assess a wide range of factors from schools, transport and broadband speed to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street to produce the guide.

Councillor John Akker said he was not surprised West Mersea had made it on to the list which also includes Norwich and Bury St Edmunds.

He said: “Only a few weeks ago it featured on the ITV programme This Morning as an undiscovered jewel.

“So it’s not surprising at all. In recent months and right throughout 2019, Mersea was featured a lot, it featured in so many national publications.

“I think the reason for this is one of two things, firstly because it is so close to London and so it’s easily accessible for a lot of people.

“And secondly is that it is unspoilt from the point of view that it has got a tight knit community presence.

“It’s also a big attraction for caravans, I think it has over 2,000.

“Putting all these things together, it has got some really good features so it is not surprising at all that it is featured on the list."

Mr Akker is also a leading light in Stop350, a group formed in 2016 to fight overdevelopment of Mersea Island and preserve its special features.

“I am passionate about the area. I have been involved in the area since 1954.

“My family discovered it when they lived in London and brought a chalet which is now on Coopers Beach.

“A lot of people visit relations here and friends, which helps spread the word about the area.

“I think it’s a community which has got so much vitality and so many friendly people.

“It acts as one community with so many groups, which a lot of places don’t have, and it has so much to offer from the beaches and the lovely restaurants.”

West Mersea is a one of three new entries to the list from Essex along with Dedham Vale .

Mersea is famed for his sailing including nurturing the raw talent of Olympic sailor Saskia Clark.

Saskia competed in the 2012 London Olympic Games where she won a silver medal before taking a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The island is also famous for its oysters which have been cultivated in the creeks around the island since Roman times.

It is said that Romans loved them so much they would tow them in nets behind their boats all the way to Rome.