Since 1965 (with the expansion of the London County to become the Greater London Council), there have been a series ill-designed reorganisations, if we can dignify them with that title. These have served to confuse and alienate the population without improving local democracy or accountability. The changes seem to have been motivated primarily by the need to have roughly equal populations in each unit, and by party-political chicanery by Labour and tories alike.
Instead, England's administration should be designed to deliver good governance.
Currently, England has different zoning for different purposes. The NHS, the police, the new (and opaque) system of Regional School Commissioners , Local Enterprise Partnerships , Combined Authorities , the county and criminal courts, all have different and completely unintegrated zoning. This is a shambles and it further adds to our sense of powerlessness, confusion, and alienation. The new Combined Authorities are perhaps the worst of the lot - adhoc groupings of local authorities aiming to re-implement the abolished metropolitan counties which emerged in the early 70s in one of the earlier "reorganisations". There is undoubtedly a need for infrastructure to be planned and operated at this level (in fact at a higher level) but doing this in such an adhoc way with no democratic involvement is unseemly to say the least.
The problem was always that our traditional counties were too small for modern adminstration, but too strongly welded to conservatism and to the landed county wealthy.
Modernisers in all parties must now urgently look at this and build up, steadily, big regions ready to take on most devolvable responsibilities in England. North, Midlands, South-East (including London) and South-West. If we make the regions smaller, the boundaries cut through too many travel-to-work routes. Within each big region, most power and most service delivery would be at the level of the districts, unitary authorities, and boroughs within their territory. Mostly, the boundaries between regions would not have to split these atomic local authority units. The regions would then gradually take on most responsibilities - they would become the mandatory top-level geographic split for all English functions: police, NHS, education, infrastructure, public transport, social services etc. They would be big enough to have the muscle to manage things properly, but much less remote than whitehall. They would lead their member authorities to cooperate rather than fight for influence and funding. They would be voted for and would ultimately return England's MPs (one or two per atomic local authority) and upper house (maybe 10 per region giving around 50 senators).
Look in detail at the ongoing set up of, for instance, the West Yorkshire combined authority. The architects of this entity want the City of York to be included but the hastily-drawn-up government rules preclude this. The desire (a logical one) to include York shows the need for bigger, journey-based regions. The way the rules prevent this shows the problems of adhoc planning.
An England managed like this could massively boost the morale of all English citizens. The only losers would be those whose power and careers depend on maintaining the whitehall stranglehold. We should not shed many tears for them.