An interesting theory today on “Why do we ignore Birmingham and the West Midlands?”. Because, the writer says, of the total mess we’ve made of our boundaries including our beloved traditional county boundaries. We’ve tinkered and tinkered until we ended up with the total mess that have today, exemplified by monstrosities such as the map of the Greater Birmingham LEP area.
“Without a common identity, city regions have struggled to create common institutions. Without those, they struggle to solve joint problems, or build a single economy.”
I think he’s broadly right, but needs to factor in the dire legacy of municipal socialism in places such as Birmingham and Stoke, and of course the sneering prejudice from London, which both scared away business investment. The lesson: don’t tinker with key boundaries that have been settled for a millennia or more.