BBC Radio Lancs plea rejected by Tory leader

Coun Peter Goldsworthy
Coun Peter Goldsworthy

Chorley Council has come under fire after refusing to back a campaign aimed at saving jobs at BBC Radio Lancashire.

BBC Radio Lancashire fear that they may have to cut 10 or their 42 jobs after plans were revealed by the Corporation to save £670m savings per year until 2016-17.

It will also mean the loss of 2,000 jobs across the BBC - with local radio stations expected to feel the brunt.

In a bid to rally support against the cuts David Saville, political reporter at BBC Radio Lancashire, wrote to local councils across the county to encourage them to write letters of objection to the BBC Trust chairman Chris Patten.

Several local autorities have so far backed the campaign with only one - Chorley Council - saying no.

Mr Saville said: “I just wanted to make people aware of the changes facing the BBC locally from the plans.

“I sent an email to all the councils in Lancashire and so far five councils - Hyndburn, Lancaster, Rossendale, Wyre and Blackpool are supporting us.”

The other local authorities have yet to respond either way.

The leader of Chorley Council, Coun Peter Goldsworthy, says the authority will not be supporting the station.

In a letter to the station he said: “There is no one more sorry than me to note that positive action by the Coalition Government is being implemented to reduce the debt left by previous administration.

“But the awful truth is that such action is necessary.

“If the economy is to grow with the benefits that brings then massive and crippling interest payments must be reduced.

“The country is living beyond its means. Therefore regretfully the Government needs to reduce public spending in order to rapidly balance the books.

“The BBC in general or Radio Lancashire in particular, both providers of quality services, cannot be exempt from this process.

“In my organisation we have maintained frontline services by improving efficiency and cutting out waste and duplication whilst at the same time severely limiting the burden of council tax increases.”

Sources at BBC Radio Lancashire fear that the proposals as programmes could be cancelled and others cut back unless they can convince bosses to make savings elsewhere.

However, Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle believes that the councils should get behind the local station.

He said: “Local radio is vital to our regional identity and BBC Lancashire has a huge following.

“Last winter people relied on BBC Lancashire to get the most up to date information on the snow and road closures, this local knowledge cannot be overlooked.

“Of course, I recognise that public spending is under review and cuts are going to happen but I think in the whole context of the BBC’s operating budget, savings could be found at the top of the organisation rather than on regional stations.

“If people have bought a TV licence, which funds the BBC, in Lancashire then they should not see their favourite station services cut disproportionally compared with other regions or national programming.”

“I am glad to hear that most of Lancashire’s councils are getting behind BBC Lancashire on behalf of members of the public.”