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MP Tim Farron has welcomed news that the community campaign to save BBC Radio Cumbria has been successful.
This afternoon BBC Trust Chairman Lord Patten announced in that he had asked BBC bosses to look again at their cuts to BBC local radio and regional shows like Inside Out. This comes after a massive public campaign led by Tim to save the much loved station from a 20% cut.
In his speech Lord Patten has asked the BBC to replace the cuts planned for local radio stations with extra efficiency savings across the BBC. This is estimated to be around £10 million. Tim has written again to Lord Patten today asking for an urgent meeting to discuss how the efficiency savings will be made and what if any impact they will have on BBC Radio Cumbria.
Director General Mark Thompson has today said in an email to BBC staff that: “Staff in BBC local radio newsrooms are to be staffed at their current levels”
BBC Radio Cumbria has a unique role in providing news and information county-wide and has been an extremely important source of information for Cumbrians during times of crisis such as the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak, the 2007 Grayrigg tragedy and 2009 Cumbrian floods.
Still under the BBC’s Delivering Quality First plans there will still be programme cuts, staff redundancies and a lot of belt tightening throughout the organisation but many observers think today’s news is a lot more optimistic that previous thought.
Under their previous proposals, BBC Radio Cumbria would have lost 9.4 FTE (full time equivalent) posts. Two weeks ago, Tim warned that BBC bosses would be in danger of losing the ‘hard won trust’ of the people of the county if they continue to push for major cuts in much loved services like BBC Radio Cumbria.
Mr. Farron said: “ I am pleased that the BBC have listened to people throughout our county and agreed to safeguard BBC Radio Cumbria. Together we have made them see sense - Our campaign has made a difference and has helped save a pillar of our community.. I want to pay tribute to the thousands of people who emailed BBC Bosses and told them to protect our much love station.”
“Our campaign really did make my job easier - when I met the Director General of the BBC, I could look him in the eye and say ‘thousands of Cumbrians are against your plan – drop it now!’ My job now is to look at the detail and make sure it isn’t just a cut by the back door. I am asking for an urgent meeting to go through the plans with unions and BBC Bosses to make sure BBC Radio Cumbria is here to stay”