DEFINING WHAT IS LOCAL TO A PARTICULAR COMMUNITY
A few basic facts establish whether a location in Cumbria or North Lancashire should be receiving BBC (and/ or ITV) Regional output from the North West, the North East of England- or whether really it should be part of a new Television Region. The first is the distance and travel times to the major cities of the Region (where there are airports, emergency medical centres, major shopping centres, etc.) and also whether the major centres in the North West (or North East of England) could in any way be described as “Local”.
First of all, what geographical areas are “Local” to a particular area? This has a bearing on the relevance of Regional Television output that a particular area has- because if only 10% of the news is relevant to the lives of people in an area it means “Regional Television” (as the BBC likes to say “The News where you are”) it is not particularly relevant to folk living in that particular community.
I define “Local”, which others will concur with, as the following:
- A location is local to a particular location if it is one to which people are willing to commute to work on a daily basis.
- A location is local to a particular location if it is one to which the inhabitants travel to for recreation, sightseeing, walking just for a day (i.e. day trips).
- A location is local to a particular location if it is one to which folk travel to see friends and relatives just for one day before returning at the end of the day.
- A location is local to a particular location if folk are willing to travel there to undertake major shopping trips, to take some-one to the airport or indeed if one needs to travel to that location to get major life-saving surgery.
To some extent it depends on how far one is from major cities, but however you dress it up the main criteria should be whether it is somewhere most people would readily travel to and from that location, from the location where they live, in a day without an overnight stay. A family driving from Birmingham to the Lake District for a break will not (in all likelihood) be going for a day, but a family driving from their home in Lancaster to the Keswick area (a distance of just 51 miles and involving an hour’s drive) to meet with friends for lunch and a stroll along the banks of Derwentwater will probably not be stopping overnight there. Someone living in Kendal with a well-paid job in Preston (just 42 miles away) will be willing to commute daily by train. If the Kendal professional had to work at a base in Crewe or in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (both over ninety miles by road) it is more likely that professional would find some digs in the location he or she works and travel only on Monday mornings and Friday evenings- or the professional would move house to be based nearer their work.
That said, a more strict definition of local to an area are locations that most people in an area travel to and from each day (or at least every other day). So a pensioner in Shap, in central eastern Cumbria may travel to Kendal (just 15 miles away) to get groceries or see his/ her doctor on a regular basis. A pensioner in Blackpool is not likely to travel each day (or every other day) to get groceries or see the doctor in Kendal, some 46 miles away by road, because he/ she could find those essential services much closer to home. If, however, this pensioner had a daughter in Lancaster (just 25 miles away) he/ she may well travel to see her two or three times a week on the bus.
So there’s immediate local, that is locations folk travel to on an almost daily basis (these will be within a 25 mile radius of a particular area or within a half-hour drive). There is also regionally local, which are those locations from 25 miles out up to 50 miles away (or up to an hour’s drive or train- journey away). Places both more than fifty miles and more than an hour’s drive (or over an hour’s train journey) away from a particular location are not local at all. Let us now look at specific locations in Cumbria and North Lancashire and see how other places in the North West and North East of England and in southern Scotland compare. Since this website is also campaigning to get Regional Television improved in northern Northumberland (where they have a choice of BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) and ITV Tyne Tees I will also look at Berwick-upon-Tweed and analyse what is (and is not) local to that North Northumberland town:
Principal places’ locality to LANCASTER:
- Carlisle: 67 miles away and 52 minutes (by train). Regionally Local.
- Preston: 22 miles away and 22 minutes (by train). Immediate Local.
- Kendal: 22 miles away and 24 minutes (by train). Immediate Local.
- Liverpool: 62 miles away and one hour and eight minutes (by train). Not Local.
- Chester: 82 miles away and one hour and 28 minutes (by car). Not Local.
Principal places’ locality to KENDAL:
- Carlisle: 47 miles away and 57 minutes (by car). Regionally Local.
- Penrith: 28 miles away and 32 minutes (by car). Regionally Local.
- Cockermouth: 45 miles away and one hour and six minutes (by car). Regionally Local.
- Garstang (Lancashire): 32 miles away and 37 minutes (by car). Regionally Local.
- Manchester: 73 miles away and one hour and 18 minutes (by car). Not Local.
- Newcastle-upon-Tyne: 89 miles away (via A685, A66, A688 and A1(M)) and one hour and 45 minutes (by car). Not Local.
Principal places’ locality to WHITEHAVEN:
- Workington (Cumbria): Eight miles away and ten minutes (by car). Immediate Local.
- Ulverston (Cumbria): 46 miles away and 56 miles (by car). Regionally Local.
- Lancaster: 81 miles away and one hour and 34 minutes (by car). Not Local.
- Carlisle: 38 miles away and 48 minutes (by car). Regionally Local.
- Manchester: 135 miles away and two hours and 27 minutes (by car). Not Local.
- Sunderland: 111 miles away and two hours and ten minutes (by car). Not Local.
- Gretna Green (Scottish Border with Cumbria): 48 miles away and 56 minutes (by car): Regionally Local.
- Dumfries (South West Scotland): 72 miles away by road and one hour and 24 minutes (by car). Not Local.
Principal places’ locality to CARLISLE:
- Hexham (Northumberland): 37 miles away and 46 minutes (by car). Regionally Local.
- Newcastle-upon-Tyne: 58 miles away and one hour and eight minutes (by car). Not Local.
- Gateshead Metro-centre: 57 miles away and one hour and five minutes (by car). Not Local, but as this is the nearest major Regional shopping centre to Carlisle folk may travel to Gateshead Metro-centre for major shopping trips (i.e. Christmas Shopping).
- Dumfries: 34 miles away and 37 minutes (by train). Regionally Local.
- Gretna Green (Cumbria/ Scottish Border): Ten miles away and ten minutes (by train). Immediate Local.
- Glasgow City (Scotland): 97 miles away and one hour and 11 minutes (by train). Not Local.
- Lancaster: 67 miles away and 52 minutes (by train). Regionally Local.
- Shap (Cumbria): 31 miles away and 36 minutes (by car). Regionally Local.
- Middlesbrough: 94 miles away and one hour and 41 minutes (by car). Not Local.
Principal places’ locality to BERWICK-UPON-TWEED:
- Edinburgh (Scotland): 58 miles away and 45 minutes (by tain). Regionally Local.
- Eyemouth (Scottish Borders, Scotland): Nine miles away and 12 minutes (by car). Immediate Local.
- Cornhill-on-Tweed: 13 miles away and 16 minutes (by car). Immediate Local.
- Middlesbrough: 100 miles away and one hour and 48 minutes (by car). Not Local.
- Newcastle-upon-Tyne: 63 miles away and 48 minutes (by train). Regionally Local.
- Alnwick (Northumberland): 30 miles away and 35 minutes (by car). Regionally Local.
- Sunderland: 75 miles away and one hour and 23 minutes (by train). Not Local.
- Workington (Cumbria): 116 miles away and two hours and 21 minutes (by car). Not Local.
RELEVANCE OF THE DISTANCES FROM THE NORTHERN NORTH WEST OF ENGLAND
A quick look at the locality of principal places in North West England and the North East of England to Lancaster and Kendal shows that Carlisle, in the north of Cumbria is Regionally local, Preston is immediately local to Lancaster, Kendal is immediately local to Lancaster. Cockermouth (in West Cumbria) is Regionally Local to Kendal. However southern parts of North West England (i.e. Liverpool) are not local at all to Lancaster and Kendal, Manchester is Not Local to Kendal (though folk might travel from Kendal to Manchester Airport to go on holiday). This has great relevance for how Regional Television should be for viewers of such Regional Television in South Cumbria and North Lancashire: There must be much more coverage of locations that are Immediately Local, some coverage of locations that are Regionally Local (that includes northern Cumbria, which is beyond the transmission boundaries of BBC North West and ITV Granada) and, preferably little or no coverage of areas that are not at all “Local” to North Lancashire and South Cumbria. Strictly speaking, since the main North West Regional Television outlets cover Merseyside and Cheshire quite extensively, that ideal could only be reached if the entire North Lancashire and south Cumbria area was part of a new, separate Television Region.
Turning our attention to travel times and distances from Carlisle and Whitehaven, in North and West Cumbria respectively, we find facts that do not sit easily with viewers receiving their BBC Regional output from the North East of England. Newcastle upon Tyne is Not Local either in terms of distance or travel time from Carlisle or Whitehaven but Lancaster is Regionally Local (at least in terms of travel time) to Carlisle but not to Whitehaven. Carlisle and Ulverston are Regionally Local to Whitehaven but only Workington (also in West Cumbria) is “Immediately Local”. Gretna Green, on Cumbria’s border with Scotland is (just) Regionally Local to Whitehaven, which means that anything well onto the Scottish side of the Scottish border will not be local to Whitehaven at all. Strictly speaking, only news about Cumbria is local, in any way, to Whitehaven and West Cumbria and indeed only news about West Cumbria and areas west of Carlisle and Penrith could (in any way) be considered Immediate Local to West Cumbrian viewers of Regional Television. If the ideal for viewers of Regional and Local News is 80% Immediate Local (up to 25 miles away and/ or up to 30 minutes’ travel time) and 20% Regionally Local (further away and up to 50 miles away and/ or up to one hour’s travel time), then, for West Cumbria, even ITV Border Television (with 50 to 55% coverage of Cumbria in it’s English version Regional bulletins) falls short.
Both Manchester, the biggest city in North West England and Sunderland (North East England) are over 110 miles (and well over two hours’ drive) away from Whitehaven: Regional News programming with 85% coverage of the North East or the urban conurbations of Manchester and Merseyside would not only be irrelevant but for West Cumbrians to be told (as the BBC advertises) that it is “The News from Where You Are”- it possibly offends their sensibilities! If the BBC is to serve this area of West Cumbria in any way remotely well West Cumbria should be part of a separate new BBC North West Region (not in with Manchester and Merseyside), with a separate opt-out programming for Cumbria!
Interestingly enough, a look at how “Local” different towns and cities in the North West, North East of England and southern Scotland are to Carlisle, in the north of Cumbria, is effectively a critique of Carlisle and northern Cumbria getting BBC Regional output from the North East. Neither Newcastle-upon-Tyne or Gateshead Metro-centre fall into the definition of Regionally Local- even though Carlisle folk going for major shopping trips and going to the airport to go abroad would prefer to head to Newcastle-upon-Tyne or Gateshead Metro-centre if they felt they really had to. Gateshead Metro-centre is an hour and five minutes by car from Carlisle, and given Carlisle’s relative isolation from other urban centres- it could just be argued that folk would travel that distance if they had to undertake major Christmas shopping trips (and these folk could not get what they need from Carlisle’s “The Lanes” Shopping Centre, or from Amazon): But that is quite a stretch!
Hexham, in Northumberland is the nearest sizeable North East town to Carlisle and that is Regionally Local and a 460 minute drive along the A69. Beyond that, it is a stretch to argue that Gateshead Metro-centre is “Local” to Carlisle and then no other sizeable towns and cities in North East England can (in any way) be considered local to Carlisle. Middlesbrough is in fact 94 miles and an hour and 41 minutes’ drive away (within five minutes of the one hour and 45 minutes it would take to get from Carlisle to Manchester on the train). Looking at travel times from Carlisle, the city of Lancaster is Regionally Local in that it takes just 52 minutes to get there on the train (even though Lancaster is almost ten miles further away from Carlisle than is Newcastle upon Tyne). Gretna Green- just ten miles further north of Carlisle is Immediate Local and Dumfries, 34 miles away, is Regionally Local and it takes just 37 minutes to get there from Carlisle by train. Glasgow, Scotland’s biggest city with over one million inhabitants is 97 miles from Carlisle but it takes just one hour and ten minutes to get there by train, and it really has just as much claim to “Localness” as does Newcastle-upon-Tyne in terms of travel time (Carlisle to Newcastle by car is one hour and eight minutes): The fact is neither Glasgow nor Newcastle upon Tyne are “Local” to Carlisle, but the city of Lancaster, in North West England has a greater claim to “Localness” to Carlisle since one can get there on the train well within an hour. It is also quicker to travel the 88 miles from Carlisle to the city of Preston (in the heart of North West England) by train than it is to either drive to Newcastle or get the train to Glasgow, but Preston is Not Local to Carlisle.
Thus, Carlisle and northern Cumbria are not best- served with BBC Regional output from the North East of England any more than they were served (in the late 1980’s) with BBC Regional output from Manchester- with BBC North West Tonight transmitted to the area. The argues in favour of ITV Border, which covers Cumbria extremely well, and also provides coverage of south-west Scotland which (as can be seen from above) is Local to Carlisle. However, the fact that North Lancashire just falls within the remit of “Local” to North Cumbria supports northern Cumbria being part of a new BBC North West Region serving just Cumbria, Lancashire and the Isle of Man- with opt-outs providing tailored localised coverage of Cumbria and the Isle of Man. Overlap coverage (accounting for about 10% total coverage) beyond the transmission boundary of the new BBC Region would cover Manchester/ Merseyside for the south of this new Region and west Northumberland/ Newcastle/ southern Scotland for the benefit of North Cumbrians. The facts of distances and travel times from Carlisle to a variety of places up to (and over) an hour’s travel time away support Carlisle and North Cumbria being in such a new BBC Region. The fact that most North Cumbrians watch ITV Border, not BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) ought to tell the BBC something!
TOWNS AND CITIES LOCAL TO NORTH NORTHUMBERLAND
Since this Website will also highlight how much Northumberland is covered on BBC Look North and ITV Tyne Tees, and in particular how “Local” the so-called “Local News” is to viewers in the north and north-west of Northumberland, we have included distances of selected locations from Berwick-upon-Tweed. Some surprising observations can be made. Firstly, Scotland’s Capital City of Edinburgh is closer to (and quicker to get to from) Berwick-upon-Tweed than Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the Regional capital of North East England. Both Newcastle and Edinburgh are “Regionally Local” to Berwick by virtue of each city taking less than an hour to get to by train through the trip to Edinburgh is a few minutes quicker- taking just 45 minutes. The small town of Eyemouth, in Scotland’s Borders county, is just nine miles north of Berwick upon Tweed and 12 minutes’ drive by car away and is “Immediate Local” to Berwick. The small town of Cornhill-on-Tweed is 13 miles south-west of Berwick-upon-Tweed and 16 minutes’ drive by car- and right on the Northumberland/ Scottish border. It too is “Immediate Local” to Berwick. The town of Alnwick, which is marginally in the northern half of Northumberland, is thirty miles south of Berwick-upon-Tweed and a 35- minute drive south along the A1 trunk road and (as such) is “Regionally Local”- unlike some towns just over the border into Scotland which are “Immediate Local” to Berwick-upon-Tweed.
By way of contrast, the city of Sunderland is 75 miles and one hour and 23 minutes’ train journey away from Berwick on Tweed, so is definitely “Not Local”. Workington, in West Cumbria is 116 miles away and it involves a two hours and 21 minutes’ drive from Berwick-upon-Tweed to get to Workington, so it is most definitely “Not Local”. These facts merely highlight the deficiencies of Regional Television from BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) and ITV Tyne Tees for their viewers in northern Northumberland whom (since ITV switched the area receiving output via the Berwick-upon-Tweed transmitter from ITV Border to ITV Tyne Tees) do not have a choice of accessing a Regional News channel that provides good coverage of the area and into the Scottish Borders.
Nowhere south-eastwards and westwards of Newcastle-upon-Tyne is local or relevant to folk living in northernmost Northumberland in any way shape or form and- to put it mildly- all of Cumbria (let alone West Cumbria) is NOT LOCAL to northern Northumberland. The only news from BBC Look North and ITV Tyne Tees local and relevant to people living in North and North West Northumberland in any way will be Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Gateshead Metro-centre (if folk go shopping there), North Tyneside and Northumberland itself. Also local to northern Northumberland will be the Scottish Borders, East Lothian and the city of Edinburgh itself- none of which is covered at all by BBC Look North or ITV Tyne Tees. And, moreover, some places (like Eyemouth) in the Scottish Borders could be classed “Immediate Local” to northernmost Northumberland- including Berwick-on-Tweed, but viewers of Regional Television there will never get coverage of those Scottish Borders’ towns where they might commute to work, visit relatives regularly or see friends.
If folk in Berwick upon Tweed want to go out for the day for a real retail experience at the large Fort Kinnaird Retail Park or the Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre (on the banks of the River Forth)- both in Edinburgh, they will never be told about these places on ITV Tyne Tees or BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria): That’s because both main North East based Regional Television outlets refuse point-blank to cover anything on the Scottish side of the Border. The facts of distances from Berwick-upon-Tweed to various locations in the Scottish Borders would strongly indicate that this is unacceptable for viewers of Local/ Regional Television in northern Northumberland. Even ITV Tyne Tees, which does not cover Cumbria in its news coverage, produces news- output which is 70% irrelevant to the good people of Berwick-upon-Tweed- as it covers North Yorkshire as well as Teesside, Durham, Tyne and Wear and Northumberland.
At a minimum, BBC Look North and ITV Tyne Tees should commit to one in ten news- items being about Northumberland and- in addition- have a northwards overlap zone right up to Edinburgh accounting for one in twenty items of coverage. That will go a long way to ensuring folk in northern Northumberland receive- nightly- a news- service with at least one (and often two) news- reports of real interest to them. However, that is not a real solution.
In the 1980’s and 1990’s ITV Tyne Tees had Regional programming for the Tees area (a southern version of Tyne Tees) and also Regional programming for the Tyne (the northern version, which would have focused more on Northumberland): Hence the name “Tyne Tees”, not merely ITV North East. The Tees (southern version) was an opt-out in the main ITV Tyne Tees news- bulletins. However, it is clear that Northumberland, in particular northern Northumberland, is in great need of a more locally tailored Regional News service. A 15- minute opt-out for Northumberland (or “North of the Tyne”) could be facilitated by studios in Berwick-upon-Tweed and transmitted from the Berwick and Chatton transmitters as an insert into he main BBC Look North or ITV Tyne Tees news- bulletins. The opt-out programming would then exclusively cover Northumberland- in addition to perhaps 10% overlap north into the Scottish Borders right up to Edinburgh. To be recognised and for them to get the news about things that matter to their communities is no less than what Northumbrian viewers fully deserve!
** Distances and Travel Times using Rome2Rio Website (https://www.rome2rio.com/).