On Friday (2nd October), I watched BBC North West Tonight. The news-coverage was more like North West Regional news should be like- with news-coverage from Cumbria as well as from Lancashire, Manchester and Merseyside. Roger Johnson covered South Cumbria in a report on the proposal for a new super-hospital in Lancashire to (potentially) replace the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and the Royal Preston Hospital. The MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, Tim Farron, expressed concern that folk living in his Constituency (South Lakeland District Council area) would have to travel further if they needed specialist treatment, and this was covered on BBC North West Tonight.
The other news- item covered was the fact that Cumbria County Council has given approval for a new deep coal-mine to be constructed near Whitehaven in West Cumbria. This is the first deep Coal Mine to be built in the UK for thirty years, but green campaigners are not happy about it. The amazing thing is that this got coverage on BBC North West Tonight since Whitehaven is about 20 miles north of BBC North West’s transmission boundary. But Roger Johnson is to be commended for having this news-item in his programme as this is a news item of significant interest to folk who live in South Cumbria- and indeed across other parts of North West England since the go- ahead for this mine raises the possibility of local employment and a boost to the Cumbrian economy. That will have benefits further afield, particularly at the other end to the Copeland borough to Whitehaven, where in Millom viewers do receive BBC North West Tonight and would have watched the news with interest.
Whitehaven, and indeed the wider area of West Cumbria is very much part of the English North West, even if very much in the northern half of the Region. Infact, nearby St Bees. Head is the most north-westerly part of England, only West Devon and Cornwall in South West England (and, by definition, not the North West) are a part of England further west than St. Bees Head. Perhaps the Programmers at BBC North West Tonight are finally waking up to the geographical fact that Cumbria is part of North West England- with the inclusion of Keswick in the BBC North West Tonight weather-forecasts being evidence of this.
For those who live in more northerly parts of North West England, they must hope that these are signs that their part of the world is being covered more in the North West Regional bulletins that they watch. Unfortunately we have had these false dawns before, whereby for two or three nights in a row there will be a news- item (or even two) about Cumbria on BBC North West Tonight- then with nothing north of Preston for three whole weeks dashing such hopes. The inclusion of Keswick in weather-forecasts does, however, offer hope of more lasting change.
Friday’s BBC North West Tonight main evening bulletin was also memorable for everyone watching it for another reason: Roger Johnson, the main BBC North West Tonight News- Presenter came face-to-face with the Right Honourable Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister- to ask him some questions about the Government’s response to rising Coronavirus cases in the North West, with new (and varied) lock-down measures for different parts of the Region. Two well- known gentlemen with the same surname- which must surely leave viewers to wonder whether they might be related through a distant ancestor!