Letter: New plans needed for the South-west

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The Independent Online
Sir: It would be nonsense to create a development agency by combining Truro with Cheltenham and Bournemouth, in the DoE's single mega-region of the South-west. But it is equally unsound to assume, as David Walker does, that "Greater Exeter" should be forced into the same pot with Plymouth - or Glasgow with Edinburgh, Coventry with Birmingham, Liverpool with Manchester, Swansea with Cardiff. These are all distinctive city trading systems, each with its own sphere of economic influence.

Cities are trading systems, at the heart of all business. As the cities go, so goes the nation. And that's the crux. The UK consists of 40 or so "city economies", which are in healthy competition with each other. They are the true building-blocks of our diverse "national economy" - and the real source of the grass-roots energy for which David Walker is searching.

Labour's regional development agencies are a move in the right direction: but rather than assume the DoE boundaries (which go back to 1939 wartime planning requirements) it would be better to build the agencies up from below, by grouping together cities and small regions.


Director, City Region Campaign

London EC1