I heard or read somewhere that the English regions come from the Second World War and a need to divide the Country into zones. Apparently the South East was ‘bomber command’ – which makes sense. But 70 years later i have heard – twice in one week – the phrase ‘post regional’. My hunch is that the North East will continue to feel and operate like a region. But what of the South East and East. All the more so given our proximity to London… Whilst i don’t think people identify with ‘the south east’ and in parts of the east they are far more likely to speak of East Anglia, the regions have allowed us to develop an ecology, to explore some common causes. Be it making sense of the particularity of the audience or sharing local resources. It feels very post modern. It is true that we already work nationally and internationally with individuals and organizations. I guess the proof will be in the pudding.
What i do know is that ACE cant develop a smaller model of its current self as a way forward. Regional Councils have long passed their sell by date. Indeed one of my increasing concerns has been how regional councils have offered the appearance of regional accountability when in fact they do little more than catch up with national thinking. (in the south east a decsion has been taken to move Hampshire to the south west and we didn’t even talk about it!) How ACE retains (or develops) its permeability will be one of the key challenges of the next year.