AN UNBEATABLE community has come top for the third year running in a best village contest.

Alveston remained undefeated at the Campaign to Protect Rural England’s (CPRE) annual competition.

Not only did it scoop the best large village title for South Gloucestershire but it was also voted overall winner across the former Avon area, beating scores of hopefuls from North Somerset and Bath and North East Somerset for the third time in a row.

Elaine Lee, Alveston Community Forum secretary, told the Gazette the village almost did not enter the competition this year.

"It was a wonderful surprise," she said. "Our success is not just winning this year but having won now for the last three years. We were not even going to enter this year.

"But we have a lovely Jubilee Hall and the Alveston Community Forum did so much work improving the shops’ Parade that it seemed a shame not to enter."

Once again the many hours clocked up by volunteers sprucing up the village, clearing its roads from litter and turning its once barren Parade into a charming promenade were not in vain and in fact proved to be the winning ticket.

The 14 judges were particularly impressed by the transformation of the Parade whose appearance, they said, improved with each passing year.

CPRE’s unusual village competition is far from a regular 'beauty’ pageant. Instead of evaluating a place on attractiveness and charm, it focuses on the care put in by the whole community towards its upkeep.

Litter-free streets and a well-maintained village hall were top of the judges' list when assessing Alveston.

To spice up the competition and keep contestants on their toes, judges carried out their inspections in the highest secrecy, never letting villages know the date of their visit in advance.

Mrs Lee added: "It’s a community effort. It’s great that the people that have been so involved with maintaining the village have been recognised.

"The parish council have maintained shelters and kept the hedges clipped. The Litter busters make a huge effort three times a year to go out and pick up litter."

CPRE competition organiser for Avonside, Leslie Forrest, said: "Judges remarked on how well everything was maintained, in particular the village hall. They were particularly impressed by the efforts Alveston had made to maintain the Parade and by how little litter there was."