South West region is axed by the Government
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."