Making ‘local radio’ more regional or more national is the same as taking it away.
BBC Radio Lincolnshire is due to be reduced by 20% over five years, disproportionately hitting local radio. I have responded in support of local radio to the BBC consultation. It is a good time to review the value of local radio stations in general.
Since the government and all parties have agreed that localism is the best way forward at present, it seems perverse to reverse that for local radio. Local radio that is broadcast regionally or nationally is not local radio.
People do not identify with regions, only with counties and then only if they carefully refer to key issues within smaller places and communities.
To survive, BBC Radio Lincolnshire and other local radio stations must keep local radio local and well integrated with the community, as in Lincolnshire.
The LIVES campaign for example, really has saved lives and is the fastest growing example in the country.
In rural Lincolnshire where ambulance response is below standard, LIVES has identified an issue where public service cannot succeed and created a “Big Society” solution involving many trained and dedicated volunteers.
This has been led by out local Radio Lincolnshire, which has clearly been a major factor in raising the profile, attracting volunteers and fund-raising, elements essential for its exceptional success.
Local radio is also really important for people’ knowledge of Lincolnshire and their sense of identity and pride in our county. That is why you hear it in shops and work places across the county.
Local radio has to be a priority for the BBC if it hopes to receive support in the future. People do appreciate their local radio stations and see them as an important source of information and ideas.
Marianne Overton is the Independent County and District Councillor for Navenby and Branston District and the Cliff Villages. Also leader of the Lincolnshire Independents, a county-wide support network. Twice elected national Leader of the Independent Group of councillors for England and Wales and Vice Chairman of the Local Government Association.