‘Local stories could be missed’ - council opposes merge of Look East shows

Cllr Cameron Holloway proposed an amended motion to Cambridge City Council opposing the closure of BBC Look East

Cllr Cameron Holloway proposed an amended motion to Cambridge City Council opposing the closure of BBC Look East in Cambridge. - Credit: Twitter

Councillors have voiced their opposition to plans to end the Cambridge based version of BBC Look East. 

Currently, two versions of the regional news programme are broadcast, one from Norwich and one from Cambridge. 

In May, the BBC announced plans to end the Cambridge programme and merge it with the Norwich-based show. 

At the time, BBC news reported that the corporation had said the decision was part of plans to “move decisively to a digital-first BBC to better deliver value for all audiences”. 

Councillors at Cambridge City Council voiced their concerns over what the plans could mean for news coverage in the area. 

A motion was put forward by Cllr Cheney Payne at a full council meeting on July 21 calling for the city council to write to the director general of the BBC, Tim Davie, to oppose the cuts to regional news. 

Cllr Payne highlighted information from the 2021 census that showed the East of England had seen the highest population increase across the regions of England and Wales, 

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She said that only having a Norwich-based programme could mean “vital local stories in Cambridge” being missed. 

The move received cross party support, with leader of the council, Cllr Anna Smith, also raising concerns about other proposals to merge two of the national news channels. 

Cambridge’s MP Daniel Zeichner previously urged the BBC to rethink the move, and said it’s a “backwards step”. 

He said at the time in May: “I understand the pressure that the BBC is under, but the essence of local news it that it is local, and this is a step backwards. 

“Cambridge and the surrounding area are the fastest growing regions in the country, with real interest in local stories.” 

He added: “In Parliament, I and others are busy making the case for the East, and BBC News is one of the key building blocks giving people an understanding of the issues in our area. 

“This retrograde step is bad for viewers, bad for the BBC, and bad for the region. It’s a decision that should have been consulted on, and should be rethought.” 

The city council recognised the required cuts to spending the BBC has faced and said it supported the corporation’s “attempt to achieve a full and sustainable funding settlement in the future.”