Local government is in a mess, not just here in the West Midlands but across the country as a whole.
Years of Whitehall centralisation have drained the powers of councils.
Unable to raise much in the way of tax themselves, town halls increasingly rely on central government grants and a plethora of quangos to fund costly infrastructure projects. It is, as an incisive study by the Centre for Cities puts it, a recipe for paralysis.
The suggestion that Birmingham and 12 surrounding local authorities become a city-region authority with responsibility for economic development, regeneration, transport and skills has much merit.
It would, of course, distil the influence of Advantage West Midlands, the Learning and Skills Council and transport and housing boards.
The role of these groups to set policy would be transferred to a single, sharply focused entity, ending at a stroke a system that politicians like to call partnership working but is in reality plodding.
The seven West Midlands authorities would quite like city-region status, but are opposed to the idea that a Greater Birmingham Authority be run by a directly-elected mayor. To quote Ted Richards, the leader of Solihull Council: "Why change something that's already working well?"
Well, Coun Richards, very little is actually working well as is evidenced by the region's failure to progress transport improvements.
A mayor elected by more than two million people would be accountable, with the political clout to get things moving.
For the first time, this region would know that the buck stopped with one person.