Call to save local BBC radio reaches House of Commons

As campaigners call on the BBC not to axe local radio, the corporation's future was a topic of debate in the Commons today.

Speaking in Parliament this morning, Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey lead a half hour debate on the future of BBC local radio. She urged the corporation not to centralise operations and spoke to highlight the importance of local coverage.

BBC bosses are looking at ways of saving up to 20pc on the corporation's budget, after the government announced the licence fee would be frozen for six years.

Proposals include reducing local radio output to two shows a day – breakfast and drive time - with the remaining airtime filled by Radio Five Live.

Praising the virtues of local coverage, Dr Coffey said: 'Many good examples of BBC local radio will be given today, but the reason I wanted the debate was to stand up for the licence fee payer.

'One of the things that worries me about the BBC's review process is that the licence fee payers have not been asked for their opinions or thoughts'.

'Leiston Football Club probably would not get commentary on Radio 5 Live, even though they are about to win their championship and get promoted into the Ryman league premier division, but somehow I think that matters to the people of Suffolk.

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Dr Coffey suggested the BBC made savings in its bureaucracy in order to continue funding local operations.

'One of the BBC's core values is to reflect what its audiences want,' she said.

'I call on it to look hard, think hard, and speak to licence fee payers'.

A total of 66 MPs have now signed Dr Coffey's Early Day Motion to save local radio.

The proposal to cut local output is one of a number of ideas being discussed by the BBC as part of ongoing staff consultations.

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