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WIGAN is the most car-dependent community in the country, it was claimed today.

A new survey by a public transport pressure group found that the borough - which has been ranked alongside cities because of its 320,000 strong population - has “poor access to key services for those without a car” who must rely on public transport.

However we do at least score well in the cycling and walking categories.

The survey by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) selected, on a representative geographical basis, 26 towns and cities in the UK to test car-dependency levels.

But Wigan Council Cabinet for the economy member Coun David Molyneux strongly disputed the findings as “unrecognisable” for the borough.

He said: “Rail use between Wigan and Manchester or Liverpool is growing strongly.”

London got the top marks overall...and was particularly praised for its bus services.

After London, the next least car-dependent place was Brighton and Hove, followed by Nottingham.

Almost as bad as Wigan, the survey found, for car dependency was Colchester in Essex and Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

The most improved city since a similar survey in 2010 was Southampton, which climbed five places to fifth.

CBT sustainable transport campaigner Sian Berry said: “The cities that have topped our ranking show how good planning and investing in transport infrastructure can provide decent transport alternatives and reduce the number of people having to make every-day journeys by car.

“Heavy investment in transport for London 2012 is already starting to show its impact with the capital moving up to top the ranking.

“But local authorities need to realise the most cost-effective way to reduce dependence is to invest in cheaper, more-efficient public transport and build new developments that can be accessed by cycling and public transport and which reduce the need to travel.”