ON BBC RADIO CUMBRIA
Rory has voiced his unconditional support for BBC Radio Cumbria following last week’s announcement of major cuts to the local news service. Despite lobbying the Director General of the BBC Mark Thompson throughout the year both in writing and in person, Rory has said that he is “shocked and saddened” to hear of the potential extent of the cuts to Cumbria’s local BBC station, a “much-valued and needed news service”.
BBC Cumbria is to lose a potential third of its workforce as part of the BBC Trust’s review into local radio. In addition to job losses, all weekday programmes between seven in the evening and six in the morning are likely to become regional or national, with coverage substantially reduced at weekends also.
Rory said: “This is a potential disaster for Cumbria. Our local BBC reporters work tirelessly to cover a vast geographical area, and are at the very heart of the most important local news stories as they happen. They have been amongst the first at the scenes of recent emergencies, from the Cockermouth floods to the Keswick bus tragedy to the Derrick Bird shootings. As ever, Cumbria is a very special case: with the issues of sparsity that we face, coupled with active and innovative communities that are driving so many parts of national policy, I personally – and many others – simply cannot conceive of going on without a dedicated local news service. As the most listened-to local station in the country, I urge everyone who values this service to contact the BBC Trust and voice their strong support. I have written to the Trust and the Director General to call on them to reconsider this decision, and I know that my fellow Cumbrian MPs will be doing the same.”
Representatives of BBC Radio Cumbria have reacted with disbelief to the news. Julie Clayton, union representative, said: “Local issues will not be highlighted, questions will go unasked, communities will be ignored or forgotten: please contact the BBC Trust if you want to object to these cuts.”