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I agree it would be better to have a bottom up process. The existing nine English regions are lines on a map drawn up by the central government. Apart from Greater London, the regions are extremely shadowy. Most people probably do not realise they exist.

English local patriotism focuses on the counties (and probably more the historic counties than the administrative areas we have had since 1974). The only one of the 'new' counties which seems to have worked is Cumbria - isolated off in the north west corner of England.

Many counties would probably prefer to go it alone, although a few areas (like the three counties of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire) have traditional links.

Most English counties have the same population as one of the smaller US states. Idiosyncratic smaller counties like the Isle of Wight and Rutland might upset tidy minded bureaucrats, who want units they consider the right size, but the Swiss cantons seem to manage.

Devolution to the counties (or voluntary groupings of counties) might be the most popular approach, which is no doubt why no political party has suggested it.

by Gary J on Tue Jan 16th, 2007 at 11:25:55 AM EST
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