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Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch backs BBC journalists’ strike action against “massacre” of radio services

Chatham and Aylesfrord MP Tracey Crouch says she is backing strike action over BBC plans to recuce local radio services across England.

A thousand journalists are participating in industrial action over the plans, with staff across BBC Local undertaking a 48 hour strike, which began at midnight last night.

Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch
Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch

The strikes follow industrial action by journalists in March and stalled negotiations between the BBC and NUJ, who say the proposals have failed to address their concerns about the impact of fewer services and an increase in shared programmes.

Ms Crouch, who married long-term partner and Radio Kent presenter Steve Ladner earlier this year, confirmed she was supporting the strike action, replying to a twitter user who said: “Frosty morning at the breakfast table for @tracey_crouch and her BBC Kent journalist journalist husband. Yikes.”

She responded: “Not at all. I am on the side of the local radio journalists and will be off to the rally later. This is a massacre of all that is distinct within the BBC by the managers.”

Earlier, Rochester West councillor Alex Paterson had also tweeted his support, adding: “Solidarity with journalists at @BBCRadioKent and at BBC local radio across the country taking strike action today to defend regional independence in the face of short-sighted cuts.”

Paul Siegert, national broadcasting organiser, said the BBC plans to reduce services to 48 hours of weekly local radio programming was a “disservice to the 5.7m weekly listeners who tune into BBC local radio.”

Tracey Crouch with husband Steve Ladner
Tracey Crouch with husband Steve Ladner

He added: “Journalists are striking in defence of services that are valued by communities across the country. We do not oppose change within the BBC but believe the manner in which the Digital First strategy is being enforced will destroy access to relevant, local radio that so many rely on. This 48-hour strike is about journalists standing up for local radio services, and the public have rallied behind members in their fight to keep local radio local.”

Last week, BBC journalists passed a vote of no confidence in the BBC Local senior leadership team, with 93 per cent of those surveyed indicating they no longer had trust in the team.

The NUJ is holding a lobby of parliament today, with MPs also meeting journalists from across English regions in the House of Commons.

The BBC is reducing its local radio services and instead investing more money into online journalism. The proposals are being fiercely opposed by organisations including the News Media Association, which represents commercial publishers. It warns that the BBC's further expansion into online local news, funded by the licence fee, will make it harder than ever for independent journalism to thrive.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We understand this is a difficult period of change for many colleagues and we will continue to support everyone affected by the plans to strengthen our local online services across news and audio. Our goal is to deliver a local service across TV, radio and online that offers more value to more people in more local communities. While the plans do impact on individual roles, we are maintaining our overall investment in local services and expect our overall level of editorial staffing across England to remain unchanged.”

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