01 July 2006

BBC ignores Cheshire

As a regular reader of the BBC News website for about as long as it's been online, I am enormously frustrated by the fact that as far as Aunty is concerned, my county does not exist. If I want to find local news on what is, arguably, the most important and popular news website on the planet, I have to browse either the Merseyside or Manchester news pages.

As Chester is closer geographically to Liverpool than it is to Manchester, I usually trawl the Merseyside page for my daily dose of local news. Alas, on the rare occasions that this site covers anything happening in Cheshire, it is invariably a story emanating from Warrington or Runcorn, two towns which just might be considered part of Merseyside because of the industry there. Chester is just 28 miles from Liverpool, but culturally and physically worlds apart, due to the intervening barrier of Liverpool Bay.

Browsing the Manchester page, I'm even less likely to find Cheshire stories - just the occasional one covering Stockport or footballers' wives territory...

The last time the BBC actually carried a story on Chester was months ago.

I've been e-mailing the beeb on an irregular basis about this. Of all the English counties, Cheshire is the only one not to have its own dedicated page. My first three e-mails clearly fell into a black hole at the BBC News HQ as I received no reply. The last one, sent around 2 months ago, was answered about 3 weeks later. Clearly, my e-mail had been sent around the newsroom as the response I received was at the top of a string of internal e-mails which all said, more or less, "I don't know why this is. Can you pass this on to X?". The response addressed to me said it would be looked into. I guess that means nothing will be done.

I now see this as a personal mission to correct this appalling oversight. I intend to pester Aunty on a regular basis now until the situation has been corrected.

Our local paper, the Chester Chronicle, is fairly good (as I have said before), but it's a weekly. It publishes a free midweek edition, the Midweek Chronicle, which is supposed to be distributed on a Tuesday. Most weeks, I don't receive a copy - I guess they lack distributors. On the rare occasions it falls through my letterbox, it's on a Thursday, the day before the Chronicle itself is published. A fat lot of use that is.

I'm not a fan of local radio, which does cover local news, as I can't stand the ads and cheesy presenters. What I want is to be able to read local news on the internet, on a daily basis - I want somewhere that I can dip into at intervals in my working day to find out what's happening in my area. As a BBC licence payer, I feel deprived. And angry that my corner of the world is routinely ignored. To take a case in point, the BBC weather map for Liverpool places Liverpool itself at the bottom lefthand corner of the map and covers a territory as far north as Glasgow! Chester, just a few miles south, is not marked. Nor does Chester merit a mention on the weather maps for North Wales or Stoke/Staffs... On the BBC homepage, where I have actually managed to set the weather forecast for my local postcode, there is a link offering me the opportunity to find local information. You guessed it - the link is for BBC Liverpool! And if I click on the links below, to find out what music is happening in Cheshire, I get a counties map of England that shows - no Cheshire!

How can it be that a whole city, nay county, does not deserve a mention? Chester is only a very small city, built around a large cathedral, but it is still a city nonetheless. It has a university, a football club and one of the most thriving economies in the whole of the north-west of England. People come from as far away as Bangor to shop here at weekends. We have thousands of tourists throughout the year. We have cultural festivals galore.

But no news...

The campaign starts here!

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