Carlisle and Eden District in Cumbria excluded from list of areas with very high Covid rates in North West England on BBC North West Tonight.

12th January 2021

Dear Readers

Of the two main Regional Television News services for North West England, BBC North West Tonight covers Lancashire and South Cumbria better than ITV Granada Reports- ITV Granada appeared to have it’s first news- item concerning Cumbria for a month the other day. However, when it comes to northern Cumbria, that part of North West England north of both the transmission reaches of ITV Granada Reports and that of BBC North West Tonight, neither will touch it.

The lists of places in the North West with the most disturbing increases in Coronavirus cases per 100,000 of the local population in BBC North West’s news-coverage bear this refusal to cover northern Cumbria out: Of the ten most infectious boroughs/ districts in North West England for the week ending 8th January 2021, Knowsley (Liverpool City Region) is listed as having 1,461.6 cases of Covid 19 at the top of this list whereas Blackburn with Darwen (Lancashire) is tenth with 757.5 Covid 19 cases per 100,000 of the population (admittedly still alarmingly high). Six of the places listed (including the top four boroughs with over 1,085 cases per 100,000) are in the Liverpool City Region, three are in Lancashire and Warrington, Cheshire is the other place listed.

However, the City of Carlisle district reported 1,133.60 cases of Covid 19 per 100,000 of the population, which means the North Cumbrian city and the rural hinterland stretching up to the Scottish Border has the third highest rate of Coronavirus in North West England, ahead of Sefton (Liverpool City Region) in fourth (third according to BBC North West Tonight) with 1,113.2 cases of Covid 19 per 100,000 of the population: Thus the exclusion of Carlisle from the statistics gives an incomplete picture of the prevalence of Coronavirus across the whole of the English North West Region- which BBC North West Tonight advertises as covering (from it’s name).

The Eden valley- to the south and south-east of Carlisle also has high rates of Covid-19, they reached 774.7 cases per 100,000 in the last few days (above BBC North West Tonight’s tenth highest in tonight’s news bulletin): To their credit, BBC North West Tonight did include the Eden district of Cumbria in the tally of places with highest rates in the North West last week, but this week they have decided against covering it because they don’t really like going “Beyond their Patch”!

But this does not stop there: When there is a major public health crisis due to a more infectious strain of Covid 19 in North Cumbria, it is a Public Health matter that people in other parts of Cumbria (i.e. from the South Lakes where BBC North West Tonight is received) are warned that Carlisle and North Cumbria is rife with the infectious strain of Covid 19. Some people living in Kendal, Sedbergh, Ambleside and Grasmere will, even at times of National Lockdown (as at present) will need to travel to Carlisle (or other parts of North Cumbria) for work, or to go and get a vaccination against Coronavirus. Folk in South Cumbria and indeed North Lancashire need to be warned that visiting Carlisle could lead to a major spread in infection across the entire Region.

Thus, the main BBC Regional News that advertises as covering North West England should cover Carlisle and Eden district becoming major pandemic hotspots, so that folk living a bit further south who might still fancy visiting northern Cumbria are warned to stay away. Secondly, the cut off of news-coverage at transmission boundaries means that folk near the transmission boundaries who receive the Regional News don’t get to hear about potentially life- threatening situations in major towns less than half an hour away by car, towns that they may travel to for work, or (when there are not Lockdown restrictions) to go shopping or to visit friends and relatives. Not informing people costs lives and local/ Regional news should never leave any viewers of those programs in ignorance of situations they are likely to encounter that could bring major risk of injury, sickness or death.

If you live in South Cumbria or North Lancashire, read this and are concerned about BBC North West Tonight not mentioning Carlisle as one of the most infectious parts of North West England drop them a line at:

ITV Granada Reports also has a duty to inform when it comes to Public Health issues just outside their transmission areas. They cover the northern North West really poorly, so my advice is that if you live anywhere from Wigan northwards you would be a bit better informed about local news- and areas a bit further north- by watching BBC North West Tonight. If you live in South Cumbria or North Lancashire, watch ITV Border’s Lookaround, which covers Cumbria very well, if you can get it: DON’T watch ITV Granada Reports!

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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