Leeds has been named as the best city in Britain when it comes to quality of life, beating the likes of London, Manchester and Edinburgh in a new global ranking.
It placed 26th out of 100 leading cities around the world when infrastructure consultancy Arcadis measured factors including health, education, income inequality, work-life balance, crime and living costs.
The city was also in the top quarter for economic sustainability, but struggled to compete in the economic rankings where it came in at 69th.
The Sustainable Cities report, published today, highlighted poor transport, high unemployment and skills gaps as factors holding the city back.
Nick Kealey, cities director for Leeds at Arcadis, said: “In an era of devolution of powers, the city needs to do more to push its own regional agenda, to avoid getting left behind.”
The authors of the report felt the city was failing to capitalise on its full potential – something city council leader Judith Blake was quick to challenge.
It sits with everything I’ve been saying about creating a strong economy within a compassionate city.Judith Blake, Leeds City Council leader
She highlighted international investment from China and Malaysia, the city’s high rates for private start-ups, and the benefits to come from the £1bn West Yorkshire ‘Plus’ Transport Fund.
“They talk about devolution, but Leeds City Region has already got the largest growth deal in the country without going down the next stage of devolution,” she said. “We’re working toward that at the moment.”
She also pointed towards ambitious goals for the city, such as the aim to be carbon neutral by 2050, which tie in with its future development and sustainability.
Leeds was the only city in Yorkshire to feature in the report, which highlighted its role as the largest legal centre in UK outside of the capital and a leading retail destination.
Its proximity to the Yorkshire Dales and being home to one of the largest urban parks in Europe also scored it points.
Coun Blake said: “We’re absolutely delighted that we’ve been recognised as the best city in the UK for quality of life and people.
“It sits with everything I’ve been saying about creating a strong economy within a compassionate city. Everything we do must fit into achieving that. We want to bring that benefit to the people who live and work here.”
It was quality of life which the report highlighted as one of the city’s greatest strengths.
It said: “The city’s communities benefit from the likes of a relatively good work-life balance and lower levels of income inequality than many other areas of the country.
“Evidently, the potential truly is there, if only the city and its leaders can decide what it is they want Leeds to be.”
Mr Kealey added: “Leeds is at a crossroads; if it can attract and retain the right people, bring in external investment and develop a stronger identity as a city, there is no reason why it cannot improve its long-term prospects.”
Coun Blake said she would be inviting Arcadis representatives to meet with her to talk about the progress being made in the city.