At just under £300, this is a simple, effective round-town bike. It's hard to see why you'd want to pay more. It's tightly focused on commuting and fulfils the brief well.
The Courier Race is the 700C-wheeled version of Edinburgh Bicycle Co-op's own-brand Courier that we've praised in the past. It's faster on tarmac but not so good at going off it. You can tackle a towpath on its 32mm tyres, but forget singletrack.
The single-chainring 1x8 setup means there's enough money in the budget for a half decent rear mech (Alivio) and decent wheels: stronger, eyeleted rims - which should be less prone to cracking around the spoke holes - on Shimano RM40 hubs. A narrower flat bar keeps you out of the wind better, although performance isn't quite up there with the skinny-tyred (and £120 more expensive) Boardman Urban Comp. On the flip side, clearances for tyres and mudguards are bigger and it'll take racks front and rear.
Bar ends should be an early upgrade, because thinner tyres transmit more road buzz to your hands than fat ones when you're on flat bars. Allen bolted wheels would be better for security, too.
Even if we had more money to spend, the Courier Race would make our shortlist of town transport choice. Decent commuting bikes don't have to cost a packet.