BRIDPORT just missed out on the top slot for the best market town in the country – but it has still been voted third out of the top ten out of 55,000 votes.

Top spot in the BBC Countryfile Magazine competiton, now in its third year, was taken by Whitby in Yorkshire, second was St Ives in Cornwall.

The ten nominees in the favourite market town category were selected by travel writer Brigid Benson.

She chose Bridport for its high quality local food producers, its thriving market and the annual food festival.

Bridport did beat old rival Totnes in Devon and was judged better than Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, Whitstable in Kent, Oban, Argyll and Bute in Scotland, Narberth in Pembrokeshire, Church Stretton in Shropshire and Peebles on the Scottish borders.

The competition is designed as a celebration of Britain’s countryside and its people and features 10 categories.

Chairman of the Bridport Food Festival Amanda Streatfeild said it was very exciting news.

She said: “Being nominated it a great tribute to Bridport and the fact that here is such great community spirit in Bridport.

“It is that which makes the food festival work so well, and all the other festivals.

“It is like the icing on the cake because the festival is great fun and we seem to have something that is a little different from other people’s festivals which hopefully encourages locals to come as well as visitors.

“One of the reasons we set the festival in June was to expand the season and the local B and Bs say it has worked.”

Coun Ros Kayes said: “I'm delighted that everything fabulous Bridport has to offer has been celebrated in this way. It's a real honour and testament to the hard work of every organisation that's promoted our market, food and culture nationally and regionally over the last 10 or so years, as well as business like Denhay, the Electric Palace and our museum and arts centre - all punching far above their weight in terms of what they produce and bringing publicity to the area “It's also testament to the people of the town though. Bridport wouldn't be as it is without the character it's been given by local people. We have an amazing sense of community here.

“I hope this will bring more visitors to the town. Businesses are weathering the recession , but it's been a struggle for them, and a number of high street shops have closed.

“We need to keep making sure our market goes from strength to strength too - the clues in the name of the poll, market town. None of this would have been possible without it.”