THE LOCAL MP is expending more of his considerable energy trying to save BBC Radio Cumbria from the cuts that the corporation is having to make.
He says the BBC has suggested in its ‘Delivering Quality First’ document that many local programmes could be replaced and only a skeleton local service be maintained.
The BBC is already running pilot schemes for this kind of programme-sharing service in the south-east of England (for drive time on Radio Surrey, Radio Kent and Radio Sussex) and Yorkshire (for mid-afternoon on Radio Sheffield, Radio York and Radio Leeds).
Mr Farron, the Liberal-Democrat member for Westmorland and Lonsdale, argues that BBC Radio Cumbria has a unique role in providing news and information county-wide and has been an extremely important source of information for Cumbrian’s during times of crisis such as the 2001 Foot and Mouth outbreak and 2009 Cumbrian floods.
Unfortunately that assumes that Cumbria needs a county-wide service. Despite almost 40 years of propaganda there is still little evidence that people in Barrow want to know what’s going on in Carlisle, or people in Kendal care about what happens in Workington.
Of course there are examples, like the two cited by Mr Farron, of wider interest, but when that happens the national and regional services are adequate. The rest of the time, Radio Cumbria trots out a never-ending stream of trivial tittle-tattle, more often than not based on national magazines and surveys, and parochial news.
Mr Farron recently wrote to the Chairman of the BBC Trust, Lord Patten, to express his concern about the proposals. He is now asking local residents to email the Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, to let him know their views about the plans to axe Radio Cumbria.
A composite service provided for the old county of Cumberland, lumped in with Newcastle and Durham; and for the old county of Westmorland and Lancashire North of the Sands, based in Preston, would far better reflect the actual loyalties and interests of the population.