An open letter to the Director General of the BBC – Coventry City Council

Dear Mr Davie

We are writing to you to express our deep concern at the announced cuts to local radio services by the BBC.

Coventry, like many cities across the UK, has enjoyed strong local journalism over the years, with print, radio and television journalists playing a key part in city life.

Sadly, over recent years, we have seen that service diminish and these proposed cuts would be a devastating, and possibly final, blow.

The relationship between politicians and news outlets may not always be a smooth one, but that is only right.

Local journalism is there to challenge us and to hold local organisations and businesses to account. It is there to protect democracy, inform local people, give them a balanced view and allow them to form their own opinions.

It is there for the elderly and people with disabilities for whom local radio and local news is a lifeline. It is there to keep people at the heart of their city and their community.

We believe these proposed cuts would have a serious and terrible effect on the people of Coventry.

With local programming only available between the hours of 6am and 2pm, you are denying countless people access to that service.

You cannot expect people to rely on their iPads and mobile phones for all their local content, it must be available to them on their evening commute, on the school run, and when they return home.

Coventry is a vibrant and independent city. We do not want to be linked to other areas with whom we have little in common – such as your proposal to partner Coventry with the more rural areas of Hereford and Shropshire for its regional content. We want to hear about the issues in our city and how they affect us all.

We are a proud and historic city that has recently served as the UK City of Culture. We are the home of the UK motor industry, an internationally famous city of peace and reconciliation, a growing city, and a city key to the industrial future of the West Midlands and the country.

We do not see why we should not be treated the same as other major cities such as our neighbours Birmingham, which will not see any changes to BBC WM under these proposals.

We want, and need, our local stations to be exactly that – local.

There must be another way for such a world-famous and respected institution as the BBC to cope with issues around the freezing of the licence fee.

We feel for those journalists and support staff who face losing their jobs, and we also feel for the future of our city, and we urge you to reconsider these cuts which take us to the brink of the end of local radio and local journalism.

We have seen our newspapers gradually disappear over recent years and the city is poorer for it. Do not let such a respected and trusted radio station suffer the same fate.

Please act now to protect our local radio stations and ensure the BBC continues to do what it has done so well over the years – serve the people of the country and keep them informed.

Yours sincerely

Councillor George Duggins                                 Councillor Gary Ridley

Leader of Coventry City Council                          Leader of Coventry Conservative Group

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