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The West Midlands is an official region of Englandmarker, covering the western half of the area traditionally known as the Midlandsmarker. It contains the second most populous Britishmarker city, Birminghammarker, and the larger West Midlands conurbationmarker, which includes the city of Wolverhamptonmarker and large towns of Dudleymarker, Solihullmarker, Walsallmarker and West Bromwichmarker. The city of Coventrymarker is also located within the West Midlands county, but is separated from the conurbation to the west by several miles of green belt.

The region is geographically diverse, from the urban central areas of the conurbation to the rural western counties of Shropshiremarker and Herefordshiremarker which border Walesmarker. The longest river in the UK, the River Severn, traverses the region southeastwards, flowing through the county towns of Shrewsburymarker and Worcestermarker, and the Ironbridge Gorgemarker, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Staffordshire is home to the industrialised Potteries conurbation, including the city of Stoke-on-Trentmarker, and the Staffordshire Moorlands area, which borders the southeastern Peak District National Parkmarker near Leekmarker. The region also encompasses five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Warwickshiremarker is home to the town of Stratford upon Avonmarker, the birthplace of poet William Shakespeare.

Geography

The official region contains the large conurbationmarker that includes Birminghammarker and Wolverhamptonmarker, but also covers the predominantly rural shire counties of Herefordshiremarker, Shropshiremarker, Staffordshire, Warwickshiremarker and Worcestershire.

Unofficially the West Midlands region also spreads as far as Gloucestershiremarker and Oxfordshire, but these are not part of the official region.

There is some confusion in the use of the term "West Midlands", as the name is also used for the much smaller West Midlands county, and is still used by various organisations within that area such as West Midlands Police and West Midlands Fire Service.

The highest point in the region is Black Mountainmarker, at 703 metres (2,307 ft) in west Herefordshire on the border with Powysmarker, Walesmarker.

The region contains five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs), including all of the Shropshire Hillsmarker, Malvern Hillsmarker and Cannock Chasemarker, and parts of the Wye Valley and Cotswoldsmarker. The Peak Districtmarker national park also stretches into the northern corner of Staffordshire.

Transport

Road

Numerous notable roads pass through the region, with most converging around the central conurbation. The M5, which connects South West England to the region, passes through Worcestershire, near to Worcestermarker, and through the West Midlands county, past West Bromwichmarker, with its northern terminus at its junction with the M6 just south of Walsallmarker. The M6, which has its southern terminus just outside the southeast of the region at its junction with the M1, and which connects the region to North West England, passes Rugbymarker and Nuneatonmarker in Warwickshire, Coventrymarker and Birminghammarker, and Staffordmarker and Stoke-on-Trentmarker in Staffordshire. The M6 toll provides an alternative route to the M6 between Coleshillmarker and Cannockmarker, passing north of Sutton Coldfieldmarker and just south of Lichfieldmarker. The M40 connects the region through South East England to London, with its northern terminus at its junction with the M42; it passes close to Warwickmarker and Banburymarker. The M42 connects the M5 at Bromsgrovemarker, passing around the south and east of Birmingham, joining the M40 and M6, passing Solihullmarker and Castle Bromwichmarker, to Tamworthmarker, northeast of Birmingham. The M50marker connects the M5 from near Tewkesburymarker to Ross-on-Wyemarker in the southwest. The M54 connects Wellingtonmarker in the west, passing Telfordmarker, to the M6 near Cannockmarker. The A5 road traverses the region northwest-southeast, passing through Shrewsburymarker, Cannockmarker, Tamworthmarker and Nuneatonmarker.

Transport policy

As part of the transport planning system the Regional Assembly is under statutory requirement to produce a Regional Transport Strategy to provide long term planning for transport in the region. This involves region wide transport schemes such as those carried out by the Highways Agency and Network Rail.

Within the region the local transport authorities carry out transport planning through the use of a Local Transport Plan which outlines their strategies, policies and implementation programme. The most recent LTP is that for the period 2006-11. In the West Midlands region the following transport authorities have published their LTP online: Herefordshiremarker, Shropshiremarker U.A., Staffordshire, Telford and Wrekin U.A.,
 Warwickshiremarker, West Midlands  and Worcestershire. The transport authority of Stoke-on-Trentmarker U.A. publishes a Joint Local Transport Plan in partnership with Staffordshire County Council to cover the North Staffordshire Major Urban Area, which includes Stoke-on-Trent and the more urban parts of Newcastle-under-Lymemarker and Staffordshire Moorlands.


Towns and cities

Bold indicates city status.
Major towns and cities in the West Midlands region include:

Population > 750,000

Population > 250,000

Population > 100,000

Population > 70,000



Population > 50,000

Other Notable



Regional Assembly

The official representative body of the region is the West Midlands Regional Assembly which has limited administrative functions such as regional planning and economic development. The assembly is not an elected body, but is made up of members appointed from local councils across the region, and members from regional interest groups such as business and environmental groups and trade unions, known as a quango. It is based on Edward Street in Birmingham, near the National Indoor Arenamarker.

Demographics

For top-tier authorities in the West Midlands, Stoke on Trent has the highest teenage pregnancy rate. For council districts, Nuneaton and Bedworthmarker in Warwickshire has the highest rate closely followed by Tamworthmarker. For top-tier authorities, Shropshire has the lowest rate, and for council districts Malvern Hills has the lowest rate.

Local government

The official region consists of the following subdivisions:

Ceremonial county County/ unitary Districts
Herefordshiremarker
Shropshiremarker Shropshire U.A.
Telford and Wrekin U.A.
Staffordshire Staffordshire † a.) Cannock Chasemarker, b.) East Staffordshiremarker, c.) Lichfieldmarker, d.) Newcastle-under-Lymemarker, e.) South Staffordshiremarker, f.) Stafford, g.) Staffordshire Moorlands, h.) Tamworthmarker
Stoke-on-Trentmarker U.A.
Warwickshiremarker a.) North Warwickshiremarker, b.) Nuneaton and Bedworthmarker, c.) Rugbymarker, d.) Stratford-on-Avonmarker, e.) Warwickmarker
West Midlands * a.) Birminghammarker, b.) Coventrymarker, c.) Dudley, d.) Sandwell, e.) Solihullmarker, f.) Walsallmarker, g.) Wolverhamptonmarker
Worcestershire a.) Bromsgrovemarker, b.) Malvern Hills, c.) Redditch, d.) Worcestermarker, e.) Wychavonmarker, f.) Wyre Forestmarker


Key: shire county = † | metropolitan county = *

Demography

Ceremonial County Population Population Density Largest local authority Largest settlement
West Midlands (region) 5,267,337 405/km² Birminghammarker (1,006,500) Birmingham (970,892)
West Midlands 2,600,100 2,884/km² Birmingham (1,006,500) Birmingham (970,892)
Staffordshire 1,062,500 391/km² Stoke-on-Trentmarker (240,636) Stoke-on-Trent (259,252)
Worcestershire 552,900 318/km² Wychavonmarker (116,300) Worcestermarker (93,400)
Warwickshiremarker 522,200 264/km² Warwickmarker (132,900) Nuneatonmarker (70,721)
Shropshiremarker 451,100 129/km² Shropshire (290,900) Telfordmarker (138,241)
Herefordshiremarker 177,800 82/km² N/A Herefordmarker (50,400)


The West Midlands' population accounts for almost 11% of England's overall population. 49.36% of the region's population resides in the West Midlands county, 20.17% in Staffordshire, 10.49% in Worcestershire, 9.91% in Warwickshire, 8.56% in Shropshire, and 3.37% in Herefordshire.

Economy



Herefordshire

Bulmers Cider is in Hereford. Cadbury UK make milk chocolate near Marlbrookmarker (near Leominstermarker).

Shropshire

Müller Dairy Ltd is based in Market Draytonmarker. The PDSA is based in Telfordmarker along with the MoD have a significant depot at Donningtonmarker there is high-technology industries Unimation, Nikon, Hitachi Maxell, Ricoh, Capgemini, Fujitsu and Electronic Data Systems. In Hortonwood, Denso Manufacturing UK Ltd make car air-conditioning system and GKN Wheels make car wheels.

Staffordshire

The brewing companies such as Coors Brewers are in Burton on Trent, as well as Marmite, Marston's, GNC UK (health supplement) and Punch Taverns. JCB is based in Staffordshire. Michelin Tyres are made in Sidewaymarker in Stoke-on-Trent, with Royal Doulton and Wedgwood based in Barlastonmarker. Manor Bakeries make Mr Kipling slices and Cherry Bakewell in Springfields in the south of Stoke. RoadChef are at Norton Canesmarker, near Cannockmarker. Armitage Shanks is in Rugeleymarker. Areva T&D (formerly owned by Alstom) is based in Staffordmarker as well as a factory and UK headquarters of Bostik. Numark Pharmacy is in Tamworthmarker (former base of Reliant). Premier Foods make Bird's Custard, Angel Delight and Marvel powdered milk in Knightonmarker, west of Eccleshallmarker near the Shropshire boundary.

Warwickshire

ConocoPhillips UK, JET UK (petrol), Bridgestone UK, National Grid plc, Telent, Calor, Volvo Group UK and a large data centre of IBM are in Warwickmarker. BMW have their main European four-cylinder engine plant at Hams Hallmarker near the M42. Codemasters is in Leamington Spamarker. Subaru UK is in Coleshillmarker. ALDI UK is in Atherstonemarker. Holland & Barrett, the health food chain, Triton Showers (the UK's largest shower company), and Adams Childrenswear are based in Nuneatonmarker. Aston Martin and Land Rover have their headquarters in Gaydonmarker. Converteam UK (former Alstom), Morgan Est, and the european HQ of Gap are in Rugbymarker. NFU Mutual is in Tiddingtonmarker near Stratford and the NFU is in Stoneleigh as is AGCO Limited UK, who own Massey Ferguson; the large factory at Coventry closed in 2002. The British Horse Society is in Kenilworthmarker.

West Midlands conurbation

Nationally famous companies in the West Midlands include Cadbury's in Bournvillemarker, Birmingham. Mitchells and Butlers, the pub chain company, CrossCountry, and National Express are in Birmingham. Small-scale production of MG cars was started again by Nanjing Automobile Group on part of the former MG Rover Group site at Longbridgemarker in 2008. H. Samuel, the jewellers, is in Hockleymarker of the Jewellery Quartermarker. RoSPA is based in Edgbastonmarker; Dollond & Aitchison and ATS Euromaster are in Astonmarker; Goodyear Tyres and Dunlop Tyres are in Erdingtonmarker; and Severn Trent (water) in Sheldonmarker. AGA Consumer Products Ltd is in Shirleymarker. Daihatsu UK is in West Bromwichmarker. E.ON UK (former Powergen), Jaguar Cars and Volvo Cars UK, Peugeot UK (head office), Jewson, the Learning and Skills Council, and Thomson Holidays are in Coventry. The Whitley plantmarker, just south of Coventry, has the main research centre for Jaguar cars. The main Land Rover factory, Nationwide Autocentre, and Enterprise Inns are in Solihullmarker. Carillion and Tarmac are in Wolverhampton, with Poundland in Willenhallmarker. Hampson Industries is in Brierley Hillmarker.

Worcestershire

Halfords and GKN are in Redditch. Lea & Perrins is in Worcestermarker.

Education

Birmingham (8), Walsall (2), Wolverhampton (1), Warwickshire (6), Stoke on Trent (1), and Telford and Wrekin (2) have selective schools. The other counties or metropolitan boroughs do not—being completely comprehensive. Virtually all of the grammar schools are in the top twenty schools for the West Midlands. Competition for these schools can be high, with their excellent records. At GCSE, the best performing area is Solihull, followed closely by Shropshire. Herefordshire is also above the England average. The worst performing area is Sandwell, followed by Stoke-on-Trent. Wolverhampton and Walsall also do not perform well. For a metropolitan borough, Dudley performs higher than many in Birmingham. At A level, the best performing area is Herefordshire, followed by Shropshire. All the other areas of the West Midlands perform under the UK average. Solihull does not perform as well at A level as it does at GCSE.

School league tables

Below is a list of the top twenty state schools in the West Midlands by 2008 A level results:

Universities

University of Birmingham
University of Warwick
There are nine universities in the region:

There are also three university colleges:

Local media



References

  1. Office for National Statistics - Key Statistics for Urban Areas Population data
  2. County of Hereford forms single local government unit (Unitary Authority)


External links




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