27/11/2011 The Politics Show North East and Cumbria


Jon Sopel and Richard Moss are here with the top political stories of the week.

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Here: MPs call on the BBC to protect


services as it looks to cut 2000 jobs.


And is this nurse right to join public sector workers in strike


Apology for the loss of subtitles for 2018 seconds


Hello, and a very warm welcome to your local part of the show. Coming


This Cumbrian nurse will be among tens of thousands of people


striking on Wednesday over their pension. But is industrial action


really justified? First, it is clear that the BBC has


to make cuts. A five-year freeze in the licence fee means the


corporation needs to save 20% of its budget, and shed 2,000 jobs.


Some of those cuts are planned for local stations like Radio Cumbria,


BBC Tees and Newcastle. Local weather presentation and regional


current affairs will also be hit. And that threat has pushed North


East MPs into action. They have warned the BBC chairman that


coverage could be reduced to a "bare minimum". But in an age of


austerity, shouldn't the BBC share in the pain?


Good morning, Peter. Breakfast on BBC Tees. Pick listening time and a


programme where the audience plays a big part. We reflect their


passions for living here, sometimes their frustrations, disappointments


and successes. The relationship that we have with people who listen


to BBC Tees is essential and hope Felipe is a very strong one.


BBC says cuts should not affect the show, but afternoon, evening and


some weekend programming will be shed regionally or across the whole


of England for all local radio stations. We have got less money


and what we are doing as a business is thinking, where shall we put the


money so listeners do not suffer? Breakfast, mid-morning, drive-time


and sport is where 86% of the audience spend their time. Where we


have less money, if we can protect that side of the business, it is


more important than spending money on off-peak times such as


afternoons. That is certainly not the News Brian wants to hear. He


has been tuning into BBC Tees for 40 years. Since his wife died, it


has become a lifeline. He says the changes are unacceptable. It no


longer became the local radio anymore, you were getting


programmes from Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle. It loses its identity,


so I think Teesside, North Yorkshire and Durham will be short-


changed. The problem for stations like BBC Tees, Newcastle and


Cumbria if it is not just about sharing programmes. They all stand


to lose 20% of their budget under the cuts. For somewhere like teas,


it means 10 jobs will have to get. There are some who believe if that


goes ahead, a local radio stations will never sound the same again.


Sharing programmes in the afternoon would save perhaps two jobs on the


station that did not have its programme, but they are talking


between 7 and 9 so where are the other jobs coming from? They have


to come from the other programmes, so of course they will be affected.


It is simple mathematics. And there are other cuts are causing concern.


The region's Inside Out team has won awards for investigations into


the likes of Southern Cross but faces a 40% cut in its budget,


something that was raised in Parliament this week. It is really


important that investigative journalism has the scale and the


presence locally to be able to identify a issues of such


significance to local people's lives such as Southern Cross.


families up and down the country are trying to manage their budgets


as well, it is not the right time to substantially increase the BBC


licence fee. What the BBC does have which no other media in this


company has, and indeed very few companies around the world have,


his certainty of funding until March 2017. That is certainly a


luxury that commercial radio would kill for. They rely and adverts to


pay for their programmes and depression in that market has hit


many stations hard. But this station believes it has found ways


to stay local and improve what it offers. I think we have how are now


have, we have got a strategy that is clear, that is all about local,


-- we have held our nerve. It would have been wrong to consolidate all


go down the network grid because that is not what we're about, and


it has enabled us to sustain and grow audiences. The BBC is also


convinced it will still serve local audiences well even after the


cutbacks. Some MPs and listeners beg to differ. But in the current


can natural climate, is there really any choice? -- in the


current economic climate. With me now to talk about that is


the Conservative Euro MP for Yorkshire, Timothy Kirkhope, who


has a keen interest in local broadcasting. Also with me,


Labour's Joyce McCarty, the deputy leader of Newcastle Council whose


cabinet this week discussed the BBC cuts.


Timothy Kirkhope, the Government appears, if you listened to Ed


Vaizey this week, to back the cuts. Is the BBC doing the right thing?


It is not right to said the government are backing these cuts.


P indicated the possibility of certain cuts in certain areas.


There is currently a consultation going on in the BBC to which I know


we have all contributed, I have contributed by her own views as to


how the BBC might economise, might keep within its budget that it has


now, and I am very much hoping that the regional and local side of the


BBC's output will be as affected as little as possible. But Ed Vaizey


went on to say, the director general has broadcasting at his


heart. The kind of defended the BBC. I suspect ultimately isn't that


because the licence fee freeze, the burdens based on the BBC, were put


there by the government to. Don't they share the blame in the cuts?


The alternative was to increase the licence fee for consumers in


difficult economic situations at the moment, so I think it is quite


right that the BBC should be required to examine its budget and


should be able to come up with savings and economies, but I think


it is a question of where does fall, and I and a lot of my colleagues,


and I speak also as a Euro MP, I don't want to see, for instance,


projected cuts in coverage of the European Parliament and wider world


right issues, we have our own priorities, I'm sure my colleague


has her priorities, I have mine, but local and regional television


and radio seemed to be now to be more important than ever,


particularly with the demise of local and regional coverage from


ITV and the pressures now on the commercial radio broadcasters


themselves. Joyce McCarty, I am sure you will not vastly disagree


with that, but the BBC is where it is what the money it has got, but


it is trying to protect the programmes that are most important,


even news programmes like Look North are protected. Is that the


right approach? It is party the right approach. I think we also


should be doing our best to protect local radio because local radio has


a major impact in this region and getting my colleagues and I have


huge concerns about losing some aspects of that and as the report


showed, the investigative journalism aspects. What the BBC


says is, if you have got a limited amount of money, you invest in the


programmes people listen to, breakfast, drive time mid-morning.


The afternoon programmes are less important. If they have to make


cuts, that is where they should make them? I guess we would have


some sympathy with that because it has to be based on audience figures,


but I think the key concern for us would be the loss of local jobs as


well and there are a number of jobs going in Newcastle based on these


proposals and clearly that race is concerned. In a way, what you said


was almost certain the BBC an impossible task. You want to


protect local services, one to protect world news. Other Net


website radios 2, 5 Live, taking similar hits to local radio. The


Conservatives wanted a smaller BBC, you can't man about it? I don't


think the Conservatives wanted a smaller BBC. I think a lot of


Conservatives do. I am not talking for all Conservatives, we value the


BBC, but we want it to economise in the same way as everybody else is


having to at the moment. What I would say if it is interesting


talking about having syndicated material during parts of the day


for different radio stations. I must admit I am nervous about that


one if it takes the character of the radio station away. I remember


when BBC Radio Durham came in. The first radio station the BBC set-up,


no longer there now, but the key point of the BBC radio stations has


been a character and localism of what they do and I hope the BBC


will consider that when they come to their decision. Joyce, you run a


council which has had to go through this process and I am sure he will


say the council is not a worse council. I am sure the BBC can do


the same? They have to consider all of the options and that big in the


consultation, when we respond to that, we will do as much as that to


protect local radio -- we will do as much as we can. We like to hear


from local residents in phone-in programmes, opportunities for us to


listen directly to residents which are important and indeed the Inside


Out programme, the investigative work around races and in Sunderland,


the Southern Cross issues, they are important -- around or races and in


Sunderland. Thank you Deri much.


-- thank you very much. And there is more on the BBC cuts


on my blog. The address in on the screen now.


There is little doubt what next week's big story will be. It is the


strike action being planned by around 2 million public sector


workers on Wednesday. The level of disruption is likely to be high.


Many schools have already announced they are closing. The Tyne and Wear


Metro will be suspended, while most council services will also be


affected. In a moment, I will be asking my guests whether such


action is justified. But first our Cumbria reporter Emily Unia has


been talking to two people about their pensions, the issue right at


the heart of this dispute. Next Wednesday, Liz Walsh will not


be going to work. She will be on the picket line like thousands of


public sector workers across Cumbria and the north-east. She has


been a nurse for 20 years, attracted back to the NHS from the


private sector by better pay and prospects. But government proposals


to change public sector pensions will leave her significantly worse


off. I feel very angry that something that was agreed, to me a


contract, it stands in law, that ministers feel they can just take


that away from the and change that, and I feel sad that things that I


had planned for my retirement are not likely to happen, and I am sad


that I have got to keep on working when physically I may no longer be


up to the job. Liz Burns �34,000 a year. Government changes means she


needs to pay �1,000 more each year into her pension scheme and will


also have to work longer, retiring at 66 instead of 60. This is an


agreement that was made that they are trying to turn around, and


instead of a strapping our standards we should all be working


together to increase the standards for the people who work in the


private sector -- in the public sector. Strike action is the last


port of call, and investigations are ongoing and we hope they will


be successful but we feel we have been backed into a corner by the


ministers and this is the only way of getting our voices heard. But,


for many, refusing to work for a day is not an option. Emma Barnes


runs a cake-making company from her home in Carlisle. It seems a little


unfair that they have that power to hold us to ransom and strike and


cause a disruption when there is nothing more that we can do. It


affects me on a personal level because my children will now be off


school, that means a day off work for me. I don't know whether I


would have a bit more sympathy if it wasn't affecting in that way. It


is a difficult situation. I can appreciate what they are striking


for but I am not sure whether the strikes are going to have the


effect that they are hoping. As a self-employed worker, Emir should


be planning for the future, saving money each month into a private


pension. She isn't. My personal circumstances don't allow me to put


anything away. I was on a really good salary, recession hit, it was


cut drastically, and then I had to look for a job, which was half the


salary I was on before. I have still got the same financial


commitments that everybody else has, I have set up working from home, I


barely make a salary from the products that I sell because people


are just not able to spend that amount of money, but, as I say, I


cannot hold anybody to ransom. We just have to get on with it and


hope that the economy picks up. there is no sign of that happening


any time soon. The pensions issue divides opinion, and so will next


week's strikes. But with more than 20 union set to walk out, it will


be hard to avoid the destruction. - - disruption.


Thousands of council workers your employee will be on strike next


Wednesday. Do you support their cause? That is a difficult question.


The leadership of the city council will not condone industrial action


because we want to be responsible employers, but we also have


sympathy with the issues that the staff of the city council are


raised in. Do you think they are wrong to go on strike? It is their


right as workers, the rules allowed them to take industrial action.


They have been offered an improved deal, are they wrong to go on


strike? They have been offered pensions that are still better than


many peoples and the private sector. The public sector-private sector


issue is tricky, because we should not be saying public sector workers


get, as the government have called them, gold-plated pensions. The


average pension for most workers is 3,500 to �4,000, that is not gold


plated. Some people in the private sector will get more than that.


What the Government's issue should be is to help people in the private


sector to improve their pensions. The nurse we saw in the film does


not want to strike but feels she has a commitment, a contract on her


pension, that the government is Rene Dean Mumm. I don't think that


is true, -- that the government is backing out on. Having listened to


the recommendations of a considerable number of people


including trades unions representatives... People will not


take a situation lying down to pay �1,000 extra a year and were it


gets to six years when they cannot plan for it. The truth is we are


all missing longer and will have to work longer because of bad -- we


are all living longer. We would be very envious of the public sector


situation, I am concerned we will have a dispute which is going to


cost the economy, we cannot afford it at the moment, another half a


billion pounds for one day. Only a quarter of the member of the unions


who bothered to turn out in ballot in favour of having a strike, and


the people of this country should be very concerned about that. We


simply cannot afford it. But in the middle of negotiations we are going


to have this incredibly disruptive strike. That is not right. We saw


Emma, she might be justifiably furious about this, she was quite


calm, but it will cause disruption to people who have to keep their


children off school. We accept that, but it is the right of the workers


to take that action, and the workers tell us they are soaked


frustrated about negotiations that there is nothing new on the table,


the negotiations we are hearing this week is that nothing more will


be offered. That does not sound like continuing Nick associations,


it sounds like we are not negotiation and of -- not


negotiating enough. We have predicted people within 10 years of


retirement, people in lower pay, the people we should be most


concerned about, the lower paid workers will not have a


deterioration, they will have an improvement in their pension. The


things that have come out should be more than enough to make the union


leaders think again, they should think again and there should not be


a strong. Is it fair that people like Emma, in the film, when they


pay taxes will be effectively subsidising people who have


perfected the God Pensions when she has not got a pension herself?


who have effectively got pensions. We are doing a lot of support


people in am a's position to get a pension. It costs �100,000 to


secure a pension of around three and a half �1,000. And it costs


Emma Moore to get her pension because in terms of age people now


live longer. The government's focus seems to be on undermining public


sector pensions. Should and the focus be helping people like Emma


get their own pensions? government is responsible for


public sector pensions, not for private sector pensions.


Individuals are, small business people are. The Government should


help those people who have to get their own pensions but they have a


duty to look at the nature of pensions for the people for whom


they are responsible. What is being done for someone like Emma? We have


to look at the tax system to see if we can help people who invest in


their own pensions. The situation is clear, she cannot afford it.


Everybody is having a problem. The economy has been in difficulty for


a while, we want to get it going again, that is the main priority,


and it will help them and everybody else. But the public sector is the


direct responsibility of government and the government cannot afford to


give in to the sorts of demands which the unions are demanding at


the moment. Joyce, Ed Miliband has been warm about this, saying they


should be striking in the middle of negotiations. -- they should not be


striking. Should and Labour be supporting this? We are taking a


motion to city council in November in support of the discussions to


encourage the government to continue those discussions and work


with trade unions to ensure this issue is sorted. We have to leave


in there. Thank you very much. And if you would like to have your


say about the industrial action, my colleague Mark Denten will be


getting views in Durham next week. All you need to do is turn up at


Market Place from 10am on Wednesday morning, that is the day of the


strikes, and you can put your question face-to-face to the trade


unions and the politicians who will be in the hot seat. You never know,


they might even answer them. Watch Look North that night to see what


happens. Before that, of course, it is the


Chancellor's autumn statement on Tuesday. You can follow it all in a


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