A Tale of Two Cities

We are rightly told that city regions are an essential part of business success. In any successful region we will find a range of contributions from its constituent geographical areas: centres of manufacture, centres of distribution, a diversity of tourism opportunities, city centre leisure amenity alongside a diverse pattern of attractive localities, high value business services, high quality university research, residential patterns which serve the different needs of different groups. The key is to plan and deliver the connectivity across a region so that the whole regional package is productive and attractive to investors; and to achieve this in ways which allow diverse communities to thrive and share control over their own destinies.

Look at successful city regions like Vancouver or Stuttgart and we find networks of local authorities linked to businesses, universities and regional governments. Leadership is distributed. Success is based on a recognition of shared interests. This is the model which informs the local government leaders in South East Wales who are exploring connections with the Bristol region to create a collaborative region of over 2 million people capable of competing in the global economy.

There are those with a different tale of city and regional development – top down and imposed, hierarchical rather than collaborative. It is difficult to find the successful application of this model anywhere else in the world.

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