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South West region is axed by the Government

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: September 21, 2012

Eric Pickles

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Ministers have read the last rites to Labour's "South West" region by scrubbing the "arbitrary" concept from official Government statistics.

Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles has announced Cornwall and Devon will be separate entities, rather than lumped together with Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and other counties.

The move follows the demise of a raft of sprawling quangos and Government bodies spread across a six county-wide region stretching from the Cotswolds across to Swindon and down to Land's End.

Mr Pickles said: "Publishing statistics at a regional level is no longer necessary or informative, and we see little point in producing statistics at taxpayers' expense for their own sake."

The Conservative minister added that regions are "arbitrary lines on a map that have no resonance, in contrast to England's long-standing cities, boroughs and counties which have a real sense of local identity and popular support, dating back centuries in many cases."

Stephen Gilbert, Liberal Democrat MP for St Austell and Newquay, said the move would allow a clearer picture to be built up about Cornwall's problems. He said: "Trying to compare Bodmin and Bournemouth or St Austell and Swindon was always an artificial construct and nobody will mourn the demise of an artificial region that had no depth on the ground or community feeling."

From the end of October, the Department of Communities and Local Government will no longer collate or publish "regional" data, which had been produced to abide by European Union edicts.

Labour wholeheartedly embraced the "South West", particularly former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, who set up a series of regional structures that have since been dismantled by the coalition Government.

The regional assembly, government office, fire control centre and development agency have all bitten the dust, and the end is nigh for a South West planning blueprint.

Mr Pickles has also aimed a shot at Brussels as Britain is obliged to provide regional data to Eurostat, the EU's statistical office.

He said: "Ministers reject the notion of a 'Europe of the Regions' where nation-states and national Parliaments are sidelined, and replaced with distant regional governments answerable only to a federal European super-state.

"Dismantling such arbitrary, unelected regional administrative structures will assist in that goal."

Regional government structures formed by the coalition Government have had a more local dimension.

Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly have a local enterprise partnership, successors to the regional development agencies, while Devon and neighbouring Somerset have formed an alliance. St Ives Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George said: "The South West never was a 'region', in the sense that it had integrity and identity.

"It was just a 'government zone' created for administrative convenience. The South West is dead. Long live the region of Cornwall."

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  • jennyplym  |  September 21 2012, 10:21PM

    Well if Devon and Somerset have formed an Alliance maybe its time they started working together to get this Government to start investing in the Infrastructure then. Especially bring the M5 all the way down from Exeter to Plymouth, would be a good start, and getting the Government to hold an Independent Enquiry into the Lease and Armaggedon Clause on said Airport and getting it re-opened ASAP. Next is the Railways the line needs to be brought in from the Coast at Dawlish before it eventually fall into the Sea. The poor People of Plymouth will have to contend with the Dismantling and Decommissioning of 27+ Redundant Nuclear Subs, and have the Highly Dangerous Nuclear Radioactive Cores stored in containers at Devonport for the next 25yrs among the Population of 260.000 people, sadly their Uselss Councillors and Members of Parliament seem silent on this Issue and seem quite happy for the MOD to do this right near Homes of Men Women and Children. I have oftened wondered why Areas like the North East and South East have £Billions of Pounds thrown at them? is it because they have better MP's and Councils? Or do those MP's and Councils Demand Investment and shout Louder? I wonder......... Plymouth City Council and Its 3 MP's have a once in a lifetime Opportunity NOW to get everything Plymouth needs in Infrastructure and Investments Terms. Scotland has said NO in the strongest terms to Decommissioning of the Nuke Subs the only place this can be done is Devonport Plymouth. Why are those 3 MP's and Councillors so silent? Why have they not gone to the Government/MOD with a Shopping List like they do in the North East & South East why do these two Regions get everything they ask for! (Example New Dual Carraigway from Bexhill to Eastborne going aheah, New Motorway Extension from Brighton to London going ahead) Its high Time the Herald started the Debate and Campaign and started taking our MP's and Councillors to task on this subject the window is very small, The Government has a huge pot of Money available for Local Projects and Roads etc Why has Plymouth not formulated a bid to get two extra lanes added to the A38? Seems to me they dont care and don't want Plymouth's Economy to grow recover and prosper. Why not ask for some Government Money to get the Airport re-opened? The Government wants Regional Airports to grow in the Future now is the time to start asking and bidding. Sadly Plymouth is dying on the vine. WHY and Why are our MP's allowing to happen?

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  • H_Trevorrow  |  September 21 2012, 9:26PM

    Dream on ANDREW GEORGE Cornwall is a county of England {administratively} . It has been thus for several centuries and unless you and your nationalist friends at sister kernow can provide an imperative for change , it will remain so. Meanwhile, Andy, your next mission is how to fulfill your self on your MP pension.

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  • czarchasm  |  September 21 2012, 11:18AM

    The 'regions' were an administrative burden placed on randomly collected counties for the greater benefit of Blair. The idea of regional assemblies was something Blair tried to foist on us - despite the fact that we already have more than enough layers of government and officials and (worst of all) third rate politicians with small snouts eager for small troughs. The regions are dead - good riddance!

  • youngcornwall  |  September 21 2012, 9:11AM

    "It was just a 'government zone' created for administrative convenience. The South West is dead. Long live the region of Cornwall." I thought by trying to do away with "County" as in "County of Cornwall" it was being replaced with "Duchy of Cornwall" now we seem to have "Region of Cornwall" until someone comes up with something different I suppose.

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