- Available in: Print and PDF
- Published: January 1, 2009
Edited by Paul Hackett.
Published 2009 (ISBN 1 905370 42 3) Price £9.95
In recent years the Smith Institute has taken an active interest in regional governance and regional policy. We have published several monographs on regional issues and hosted various seminars and events. Our focus has primarily been on the arguments for and against empowering the regions and city regions, with a particular angle on the effects of devolution on economic performance and public service delivery. This monograph, the first in a series on the future of the English regions, takes forward our work on regional policy by looking at regionalism from the viewpoint of the region itself, rather than from a national policy perspective. By so doing we hope to promote greater awareness of the complexities and distinct opportunities and challenges facing each region, not least among key stakeholders, opinion formers and decision makers inside and outside the region. Our intention is to raise the level of debate about the future of the West Midlands, and to highlight what policy changes – locally, regionally, subregionally and nationally – are needed to make a real and lasting difference. As the government prepares to implement further reforms to regional structures and arrangements across England, this debate takes on added significance. The West Midlands has been transformed over the past 10 years, and, as this publication clearly demonstrates, there is enormous potential for continued growth. However, the region still contains some of the most deprived neighbourhoods in the country and is lagging behind in vital areas such as education and skills. The current economic climate and the pressures of globalisation leave no room for error. As the authors of this monograph suggest, the region has to keep the momentum of reform going and work even closer together. There are no quick fixes, and many of the suggested “home-grown” solutions to the region’s deep-rooted problems demand greater local and regional autonomy. Moreover, there is a call for determined leadership and a common endeavour to drive up standards so that the West Midlands can compete with the best in the world.