It’s been an unsettling time for two of Derby’s much-loved institutions – our famous railway industry and our local radio station, BBC Radio Derby.
Reports have abounded that the Government has shelved plans for the Great British Railways and that its headquarters – which I campaigned tirelessly for - will no longer be situated in the city.
I can reassure everyone that the Government remains fully committed to rail reform through the creation of Great British Railways and its HQ WILL be situated in Derby. In fact, the GBR Transition team have been holding meetings in the city with suppliers and executives from Derby City Council.
I have spoken with the Rail Minister who told me that he’s working hard on plans for Great British Railways and that the search for a site for the GBR HQ in Derby has begun.
Many of the reforms that GBR will oversee do not require legislation and are already underway. But to complete the process of reform, legislation will be required when parliamentary time allows.
Any suggestion that the Government’s plans for GBR are being buried or diluted are nothing short of mischief making from the opposition and petitions requesting that the plans should be saved are simply utter nonsense – you can’t save something that doesn’t require rescuing.
One campaign I would urge everyone in the city to back is my petition to Keep Listening Local by requesting a reversal of the cuts imposed on BBC Radio Derby by the corporation’s executives which will leave the city without local content in the afternoons.
I have written to BBC director general Tim Davie in a cross-party letter supported by Derby South MP Margaret Beckett and Kate Kniveton, MP for Burton and Uttoxeter. And I would urge residents to join my campaign by signing my petition against the decision to share content with Nottingham, Stoke and Leicester.
I feel passionately that having a local BBC service is vital to people in our community for all kinds of reasons, whether that’s for traffic information, weather forecasts, football commentary or just simple companionship.
I know that a local BBC presence is valued all year round, especially in times of local crisis – from weather emergencies to the COVID pandemic and elections. These are times that radio can never be replaced. It is a significant presence in community cohesion, charity promotion, debate and discussion.
I would urge any local listeners who feel, as I do, that the BBC is making a mistake, to share their thoughts with Tim Davie. At no time were listeners or staff consulted on this plan, and no evidence has been shown of any research into its effects and impact.
Although BBC Radio Derby is to share weekday afternoon shows with Nottingham and Stoke the weekday morning schedule will remain the same, currently Andy Twigge between 6am and 10am, before Ian Skye is on air from 10am until 2pm.
The three stations will share content produced for the four-hour slot, which is currently occupied by Sally Pepper in Derby, who has announced that she is leaving the BBC.
All 39 of the BBC's local stations in England have previously broadcast their own weekday afternoon programme, aired in the 2pm to 6pm slot. But this will soon reduce to 18, with Derby among those affected.
I know from the success of my Choo Choose Derby campaign to bring the GBR HQ to the city that our collective voices can make a difference if we make sure we are heard.
With that in mind, together we can Keep Listening Local. If you would like to sign my petition please visithttps://chng.it/b4pS5qYg