Yet, while the county’s skyline is much changed and record numbers of people are now in employment, the legacy of a decade of austerity, and the stagnation of living standards, is a rise in populism, culminating here in the Brexit vote, and significant fault lines in the financial sector which need to be challenged.
This is not for the lack of trying on the part of this county’s entrepreneurs. The number of SMEs, which underpin the region’s economy, has still risen by nearly 20 per cent in recent years despite banks increasing their level of lending to this sector by less than one per cent. The work ethic is clear to see.
However, while the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the publicly-funded bailout of banks like RBS, precipitated regulatory reform, there’s a compelling case – 10 years on – for a review of these protocols to not only test their robustness but ensure customers and businesses are being treated fairly.
Much evidence suggests otherwise. MPs are still pressing for information about the business practices pursued by RBS and there’s a belief that the Financial Conduct Authority is incapable of standing up to those bank bosses who believed that they were untouchable. There are clearly lessons to be learned from the causes of the crash – and also the regulatory policies that followed.
And taxpayers deserve nothing less. They’re the families who are still paying a heavy price for their forbearance over the past decade with diminished public services – and now the closure of both local banks and cashpoints. No wonder trust is in such short supply despite the recent revival of once derelict areas.