To get an accurate picture of how well the northern two- thirds of North West England are getting covered by Regional Television one has to watch it over a period of time. You get the odd day when two items of news- coverage about Cumbria might be covered in the main evening bulletins followed by a week or more with nothing. So it has been since before the weekend for those viewers in South Cumbria who get BBC North West output and, if they were unable to get ITV Border then ITV Granada did not cover Cumbria either!
To be fair, Lancashire is being covered very well at present, if only as a consequence of the spike in Coronavirus in Blackburn and the Pendle area of East Lancashire – and the local response to it. There was also coverage of plans for all 15 local District Councils in Lancashire to be amalgamated into just three larger areas to pave the way for Lancashire getting an elected mayor and there was even an item of coverage about the village of Dolphinholme in the north of Lancashire. Laxey Wheel, at the northern end of the Isle of Man was also covered but, alas, there was nothing about Cumbria.
So the metropolitan areas in the south of North West England got covered very well on BBC North West Tonight, with the news presented tonight by the outgoing Annabel Tiffin. The south- of- middle areas of the North West of England- i.e. Lancashire have also done well in terms of coverage and the Isle of Man got a mention too. But despite two items put on the BBC North West Twitter feed- about the St Bernard dog being rescued off Scafell Pike and the fell-runner Beth Pascall breaking the women’s record for the Lake District Challenge (see here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-53553760) none of these have actually been broadcast on BBC North West Tonight so far this week. Links to three items of news about Coronavirus in Carlisle on the ITV Granada Twitter page last week could also have got a South Cumbrian’s hopes up- only for them to be dashed when it is clear there is nothing about Cumbria on ITV Granada Reports or on their online news- page. The disappointed viewer would have had to look at ITV Border’s news- page to find these news items about Coronavirus in Carlisle. However, if the viewer is not computer-literate lives in a part of South Cumbria that does not have ITV Border, only ITV Granada then it’s hard luck for them!
But it is not the point. If Cumbria is effectively omitted from coverage night after night it shows that BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports are not covering half the North West Region. If BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada advertise as covering the North West of England- they must be seen to cover all of North West England. The English North West Region stretches from Crewe in Cheshire right up to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle- and notwithstanding that folk in northern Cumbria don’t receive North West Regional Television programming- the entire area should be covered in Regional output.
This matters because Cumbria is not only a major tourist destination for day-trips for folk living in Lancashire and northern Greater Manchester but because what happens in Cumbria does have direct implications for folk living in other parts of North West England. If, for instance, lead or arsenic was discovered being leached into Haweswater or Thirlmere in the Lake District- both just a couple of miles outside the BBC North West transmission area- then that has major public health issues for most people living in Lancashire and Manchester because these are reservoirs that supply much of North West England with their mains water- supply! If there is a massive snowstorm and blizzards in winter shutting the M6 at Shap (or even if the snowstorm did not shut the M6 and caused snowy roads in Cumbria) people living an hour further south (i.e Lancashire and northern Greater Manchester) need to be warned about the dangerous driving conditions if they are heading north. If there is a dangerous man rampaging across Keswick, Penrith and then Appleby on a warm sunny Saturday morning in August should potential tourists from Lancashire not be warned of the perils of heading north?
Much, if not most, of Cumbria is Regionally Local to about two million people who live in Lancashire, including Wigan, Bolton and Southport (Regionally Local is within an hour’s drive or travel time- the sort of time and distances folk will travel for a day-trip or to take the kids for a special trip to visit nanna for the day): This is a cogent reason why Cumbria should be on BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada- in addition to the fact that people who live in South Cumbria need to hear more about what is happening locally.
Over the last month there has in fact been some quite shocking happenings across Cumbria- quite aside from the father and two children mowed down by a drunk driver at Dalton in Furness, in the south of the county. A man called Lee McKnight was murdered near Carlisle over the weekend. Two adults and a child had to be rescued by Patterdale Mountain Rescue from Hallin Fell in the Lake District in the middle of the night (after their tent blew away). An illegal immigrant was discovered at a major cannabis farm at Maryport in West Cumbria (and the North West is more likely to be the market for he drugs, than the North East due to relative proximity) and a woman called Shelly Clark was murdered in Egremont last week. None of these news stories made BBC North West Tonight or ITV Granada Reports (even though some of the news- items were no more than 15 miles north of their transmission areas), though at least some of this news should have been broadcast just to warn people- who might be more likely than most of England to travel to Cumbria- what was happening in that county.