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Tim Farron

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Farron invites Lord Patten to come and meet BBC Radio Cumbria staff and listeners

October 10, 2011 4:22 PM

TF2South Lakes MP Tim Farron has today written to the BBC Trust Chairman, Lord Patten, to invite him to Cumbria to meet staff at Radio Cumbria affected by the proposed 20% cuts and to meet the station's listeners and answer their questions.

Last week the BBC outlined their future plans for BBC Radio Cumbriain the document Delivering Quality First. The BBC announced how it plans to save £670m a year after a nine-month review of all its services. BBC RadioCumbria is having its budget cut by 20% compared with an average of 12% across all other local radio stations inEngland.

Under the proposals, BBC RadioCumbriawill lose 9.4 FTE (full time equivalent) posts. Because of the budget saving this represents, the National Union of Journalists believes that it is likely that 12 or 13 members of staff could lose their jobs - around a third of the station's workforce. The station would also lose at least 50 hours of local programming every week as it is forced to share more programming with other local radio stations.

The station has a reach of 36.4 per cent, which is higher than all other local or national BBC radio services in the country. Around 150,000 Cumbrians a week listen to RadioCumbriacompared to the 88,000 who listen to Radio 4 - and while RadioCumbriais facing huge cuts, Radio 4 has had its budget protected.

Speaking today, Tim said, "I have today invited Lord Patten to come to visit BBC Radio Cumbria, meet the staff and the NUJ and listen to them. I also want him to come face to face to local listeners and answer their questions.

"Radio Cumbria's ability to respond to events that have affected our county in recent years, like the floods, foot and mouth, Grayrigg and the West Cumbrian shootings would have been severely affected had these proposals been in place. I want the BBC to think again, but as a minimum rather than just sending emails to their staff they should come and see them face to face. It is the least these hard working people deserve."