News for Cheshire

News for Cheshire is the blog of the campaign to get the BBC news website to provide dedicated news coverage of our county, which it doesn't do. Currently, users of the BBC's news website have to hunt on the pages for Merseyside, Manchester and Staffordshire if they want Cheshire news. Other contributors are welcome, just get in touch if you'd like to write for the campaign.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Election? What election?

It's polling day today. Hundreds of councils across England and Wales are up for re-election and, in case you have been living in the Gobi desert for the last six months and hadn't heard, so is the Mayor of London. Ken, Boris, Brian, whoever... even in Wick (that's in the north of Scotland) they are probably aware of who the main mayoral candidates are.

Here in Cheshire, we are about to vote for our two new (and unwanted) unitary councils. Not that you'd know from reading BBC News Online. Aunty has barely reported on the change in the last year, a change that will affect a million people and split the county in two forever.

Today's BBC coverage just ignores Cheshire, as usual. The main story this morning focuses on the general situation, then switches to the fight for London. The electoral news on the Manchester page, where some Cheshire news occasionally gets shunted, ignores the split, as does the report on the Staffordshire page.

Early this morning, there was no news at all on the Merseyside page about the elections. It took until 8.22am for the BBC to acknowledge what's happening. Even then, we are only offered two measly sentences on this momentous change. It would be fair to say that anyone outside Cheshire probably has had no clue of the impending split because it has been so woefully under-reported. Only the county's many local papers have kept Cheshire inhabitants informed, in a fragmented manner. The BBC offers no information today on the number of seats up for election in either authority, which boroughs are disappearing for good alongside the County Council, or what the expected turnout might be.

Eight other unitary authorities will be created today in these elections: Shropshire (minus Telford and Wrekin), Bedford, Cornwall, County Durham, Exeter, Ipswich, Wiltshire and Northumberland. All these areas, however, have their own county news page on News Online, meaning licence-payers in these places have been able to follow the BBC's coverage of the changes.

We shall await tomorrow's results reports with interest - just where on BBC News Online will we be able to hunt down the results of the Cheshire West & Chester and Cheshire East polls?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Far from being unwanted, the new unitary authority is being welcomed here in East Cheshire. Appreciate this may look different over from Chester but the old set up really did not work for us.

10:04 am  
Blogger Louise B said...

Thanks for your comment, Anon. Interesting to hear that. It certainly is very different on this side of the county - public opinion was firmly against the move and seen as an expensive and pointless exercise! It will be interesting to see how the new reality shapes up.

8:51 pm  

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