I notice that after last weekend's Open results the make-up of the competing bands looks like it will change quite a bit (especially if both Leyland and Besses do take the drop). With Grimey coming back in this would give us an area make-up prior to next year's Grand Shield of Yorkshire - 6 bands Wales - 3 bands Scotland - 3 bands North West - 2 bands North East - 1 band Midlands, South West, London - 0 bands I know this doesn't reflect each area's strength in depth with complete accuracy but what do people think about the current state of play? Obviously Yorkshire remain the strongest area while Wales have made great strides in recent years, but the main losers in recent years seem to have been the North West with the demise of Marple (& Todmorden?) and the possible demotion of Besses & Leyland. As for my own area I feel that Scotland is just about as strong as it ever has been. People may still think we don't have any individual band as strong as CWS were a few years ago (although Whitburn did their best to disprove that theory!) but our 3 leading bands are all competing at a pretty consistent level now after each of them had perhaps what we could call an uncertain period! All 3 have new conductors at the helm and appear to be very settled at the moment. Behind them Kinneil are continuing to progress under Allan Ramsay and several other bands are making good progress. We are also backed by possibly the most forward thinking association who seem to have completely revamped our set-up in the space of 6-9 months! What do other people think about their own areas at present?