MP welcomes rethink over radio cuts


THE BBC is set to re-think cuts to local radio to the delight of a Lancashire MP.

Mark Menzies, who spoke out against the cuts which were set to see around 20 per cent slashed from the budgets of stations such as BBC Radio Lancashire, said the move was “vital” to protect public service broadcasting and local journalism.

BBC Trust Chairman, Lord Patten, said on Wednesday a consultation over the proposal has raised “real concerns” over the effect they could have on local output.

Mr Menzies, who is Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the BBC, said: “I welcome this decision.

“As I said in my response to the consultation, the work of BBC local radio stations is vital, particularly on a public service level in terms of the community aspects they promote.

“I also felt the way the cuts were organised, with Radio 4 being protected while already stretched local stations were bearing the brunt, was disproportionate.

“I will continue to monitor this situation closely in consultation with staff at the BBC, who were very concerned about their jobs, and look forward to seeing more detail about how this decision will affect them.”

The trust has now asked that plans for local radio stations to share their afternoon shows with neighbouring areas are “scaled back”.

Staffing levels, which had been expected to be significantly reduced, may now be better protected.

Other BBC programming, such as the regional investigative programme Inside Out and current affairs broadcasting on Radio 5 Live, are also expected to see cuts in their budget reduced as a result of the consultation.

As well as personally submitting a response to the BBC’s consultation, entitled “Delivering Quality First”, Mr Menzies also raised his concerns with BBC Director General, Mark Thompson.

In his submission he highlighted the excellent reporting standards of BBC local radio journalists as well as their work in highlighting “Big Society” community and charity causes.

The BBC is looking to make savings of around £670m over the next five years as part of the corporation’s restructuring.

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