It is not OK for Cumbria to not get covered at all in North West Regional News bulletins

View North towards Derwentwater from Catbells, near Keswick at dusk in summer. If ill- prepared cyclists get stranded in bad weather at night on the fells and have to be rescued by Keswick Mountain Rescue teams it is very much in the interest of other would- be hikers/ cyclists from North West England- from where many of the Lake District’s tourists come- are informed about incidences like this on the North West Regional News- services.
(Photograph Courtesy of Lake District National Park)

BBC Look North (Newcastle) featured two pieces about the English Lake District- very much in North West England- on it’s bulletins. The first featured a family group of six people who attempted to cycle from Windermere to Wasdale Head in poor weather- they got lost on the high fells in between and had to be rescued by Keswick Mountain Rescue teams (this story can be seen here: This was serious news- a family of six getting lost on the high fells in poor weather could have ended in tragedy. The second feature was about an ecology graduate George Taplin swimming the length of all 13 lakes in the Lake District in record time (more here: Neither of these news items (though the swimming record hardly constitutes “news”), nor any other Cumbrian news- coverage reached BBC North West Tonight or ITV Granada Reports this evening, nor yesterday (and that followed ten days to Monday 3rd August- without any mention of Cumbria on BBC North West Tonight or ITV Granada).

To be fair, Lancashire has been getting plenty of coverage on BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada because of rising Coronavirus cases in much of the county- and today authorities in Preston were planning more stringent measures. Yesterday featured flooding on the estate of Scotforth, in Lancaster, following heavy rain affecting the area. However, a good North West Regional News service covers the entire region in its output; there should never be a situation where the regional news- service serving the North East of England covers the northern half of North West England whilst the North West Regional News does not cover the northern half of North West England!

People from which Region of England are most likely to be hiking across the heart of the Lake District in bad weather? Which Regional audience is it most appropriate for- and which would need to be warned the most of the potential perils of setting off on bikes across high ground with the mist and rain descending? Almost all of Lancashire, and northern Greater Manchester are within an hour’s drive of the central Lake District. Tyneside and Teesside, in North East England, are over two hours’ drive away from the central Lakes. It is true that during August you can expect some people to travel to the Lake District from all over Britain if they are staying several days, you could argue that this means it is relevant for North East England, but probably not more so than travellers from Cheshire, South Yorkshire or the West Midlands. Scottish lowlanders are much more likely to travel north to the Highlands for beautiful countryside and a break, than come south to Cumbria with its less lofty mountains. And with Coronavirus cases edging upwards in parts of the country, not quite so many folk are venturing far from home in any case.

Now, roughly three million people live in Lancashire, South Cumbria and northern Greater Manchester. They all live within a distance whereby it is possible to travel to the Lake District in an hour (if not by car, then certainly by train)- and thus it is they who make day-trips to the Lake District in addition to longer stays. The lower- populated and more distant (at least in terms of travel time) North East of England need to be warned about the perils of “Rainy Day Hikes” in the Lake District rather less.

It should, therefore, have been Annabel Tiffin on North West Tonight featuring this rather serious story of a family group of six needing rescuing by one of the Lake District Mountain Rescue Teams from the rain-swept Lakeland fells in the night- not so much Carol Malia of BBC Look North (though this news item will have salience with North Cumbrian viewers of Look North): Northern North East England is also a large rural area complete with the rugged Cheviot hills along the Border with Scotland and Kielder Forest- and perhaps BBC Look North (North East/ Cumbria) should focus on covering that more given the scant amount of coverage it currently receives.

The BBC Regions must ensure news- items reach the eyes and ears of the most appropriate audiences: For significant news-items there may be two or three audiences that need to see it- for instance, a major incident in northern Cumbria should be seen by viewers across North West England, the North East of England and southern Scotland. That family of six stranded on the fells above Windermere should have certainly been on the almost three million household televisions across North West England!

Published by northwestisnorthwest

My name is Ian Pennell and I am a freelance Book-keeper: I live near Alston, in the North Pennines in north-east Cumbria. I have friends who live in northern North West England - near Lancaster (which is where I went to University and used to live until 17 years ago) and in other parts of Cumbria. I have two Website Campaigns that seek to promote more localised Regional TV coverage for large rural areas across the North of North West England and North East England. . A big problem is that the Regional Television Bulletins for the North West covers the southern third of the Region about 90% (plus a part of Derbyshire which is NOT the North West of England), covers the middle third of North West England poorly and covers the northern third of North West England not at all! When I was studying at Lancaster University, I used to watch BBC1 North West Tonight because it covered areas up around where I was brought up- in northern Cumbria as well as more immediately locally around Lancaster. Then I came home one day, turned on BBC1 North West Tonight wondering why they were silent on Cumbria and discovered why: Most of Cumbria had been chopped off the weather-map! . People living in the westernmost part of North West England (around St. Bees Head) have local BBC news on their televisions which is 90% about North East England! In rural and northern Northumberland too, Regional TV, as is received by viewers, tends too often to be Tyneside/ Wearside/ Teesside- focussed with little news locally. Communities in North Northumberland have strong links across the Border into south-east Scotland and towards Edinburgh but none of the Regional TV News- services serving Northumberland today ever goes across the Scottish Border for significant happenings of interest to North Northumbrians. I have also done walking in the area, including around the Cheviots in the past- and the Northumberland/ Scottish Borders/ East and Mid Lothian area is vast- but it is largely overlooked by mainstream Regional TV! . North Yorkshire, the largest county in England also falls in the gaps between coverage from BBC Look North (NE/ Cumbria) or ITV1 News Tyne Tees in the north of the county, and the Leeds-based BBC1 and ITV1 Regional TV- services in the south of the county: North Yorkshire is a huge, yet beautiful county, which I have visited and explored in the past, yet is poorly covered in Regional TV. . Based near Alston, near the Cumbria/ Northumberland boundary I am well-placed to discuss Regional TV in all these large rural areas, in which collectively some two million folk live, yet they are poorly covered by the Regional TV News- services set up to serve them. These huge areas are an hour to two hours' drive from where I live: North Lancashire and South/ West Cumbria are to the south-west, Northumberland and the Scottish Borders and Lothian are to the north and north-east, and North Yorkshire is to the south-east of my home near Alston. I am well-placed to draw attention to deficiencies in Regional TV coverage for folk in all these areas. The North Pennines, where I live, is arguably another large area that touches on the other three where Regional TV coverage falls through the gaps completely (and that is despite the North Pennines running north to south down the middle of the BBC1 NE/ Cumbria Region). . In two websites, one for northern North West England and the Isle of Man (a country in it's own right that does not have it's own TV service!), and another Website focussing on Northumberland, North Yorkshire and the North Pennines I make the point that Regional TV that informs viewers of important things in their local area is a Public Service, funding for which should be given a higher priority (and if necessary via statute through the BBC's Charter), than funding for Soaps, Films or Sport- which are for leisure. I also give viewers the tools to fight effectively for better- and more geographic-appropriate Regional TV where they live- and to seek it through alternative (often little-known) local TV services, some of which may only be available on the Internet.

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