BBC to close Milton Keynes breakfast programme

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THE BBC’s Milton Keynes specific radio programme is due to close.

The corporation’s new Local Radio Service Review, published earlier this month, reveals a raft of changes to local radio production throughout the country.

The cost cutting measures include plans to axe Three Counties Radio’s Milton Keynes specific breakfast programme. As a result the Beeb’s offices in Portland Drive, Willen will also close.

Other changes will see the introduction of an All England Programme, to run between 7pm and 10pm on weekdays, local broadcasting will start at 6am rather than 5am and all stations will broadcast Radio 5 Live from 1am until the start of their breakfast programmes.

The latest review follows a consultation on initial plans to make £15million worth of saving across the country. Objections from members of the public, politicians and local councils forced a re-think with the cuts reduced to £8m and services such as local news and sports bulletins safeguarded.

But there are fears the move out of MK will mean a deterioration in the standard of the local service.

A BBC source told the Citizen: “It is an end of an era here in MK. It is the only station that held anyone to account. The danger is we could lose certain areas by not having a base.

“The damage is symbolic. It doesn’t do Milton Keynes any favours. I am sure we will still cover MK stories. It is not as if the BBC is moving away from local broadcasting.

“If the cuts enable us to keep programmes then fair enough, but that doesn’t stop it being sad or a shame. Any cut to local journalism is scary in respect of holding people to account.

“The thing about the MK programme is it is entirely focused on Milton Keynes. Every single story had to be about MK. There is no other programme doing that.”

A BBC spokesman said: “The Trust has made it clear Local Radio must stay local for most of the time in order to continue to have impact and be distinctive.

“News about Milton Keynes will remain a strong feature of our output.

“We believe we can continue to offer dedicated coverage of major events and hold local government and others to account. BBC Three Counties Radio will continue to have a reporter based in Milton Keynes.”