Just how much should local government be expressing a view about the future shape of regional co-operation on topics such as economic development, planning or just plain liaison on infrastructure? The regional landscape is changing fast, with no obvious framework to replace it. There are exhortations from central government to take a leading role, but an apparent reticence on the part of local government to put much time into proposals before knowing what the deal will be. This is an understandable but mistaken position which reflects past relationships.
I believe that this is a critical moment. Local government is in a unique position to take the initiative and propose a framework which draws in other parts of the public sector such as higher education and health. It can help create a new, logical arrangement which works on the ground and which has sufficient critical mass to speak whether for region or sub region.
There were significant problems with the size and focus of the previous regions, but also some very useful contributions in some places. Now is the time to have an opinion about future needs and work with partners and central government to create something which will deliver identifiable value for the places we serve.