That is the challenge laid down to us by the new Leeds City Council Chief Executive, Tom Riordan.
What would it mean for any city to be the best?
What criteria would be used to decide and bestow such an accolade?
And who would it be ‘best’ for? Employers? Residents? Students? Homeless? Artists? Financiers? Children? Elders?
But suppose we framed the question of ‘best’ differently, and asked how we could make everyone in the city feel like Leeds was the ‘best’ place for them to make the most of their life and to fully explore and develop their potential?
To live their life the way they want to, making their own decisions and living with the consequences. Feeling valued, respected and like they belong here. Feeling supported in a community that they enjoy and contributing to it fully.
Now that would be a question worth asking. An accolade worth pursuing. A league table worth topping.
It would almost certainly not depend on physical infrastructure, but on psychological infrastructure. A network of relationships, support and encouragement that valued people, regardless of wealth or education, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or age. A psychological infrastructure in which help could be asked for and offered. A city in which collaboration, association and innovation in the pursuit of progress was everyone’s business
It would be a city of both enterprise AND compassion.