Our divided country

David Cox is right to underline the threat to county councils from regional assemblies ("Blair counts the counties out", 11 March), but he is unnecessarily despondent about the outcome. In the 1990s, the Tory ministers John Gummer and Edwina Currie, supported by Jack Straw and other aspirant new Labour types, set out to abolish the English county councils. But they had not reckoned with the local government commission under Sir John Banham, which boldly decided to hold local referendums on these plans. The outcome was the continuation of nearly all the county councils, and the dismissal of Banham for his subversive pains.

Robin Wendt

England may not have historic regions, but it can easily be divided into city regions based on large urban centres. City regions would be understandable because they would reflect economic and social realities; they would be the areas in which most people live, work and spend their leisure time.

John Arnold

This article first appeared in the 18 March 2002 issue of the New Statesman, Far from the Promised Land