BBC director general Mark Thompson has been urged to come to Birmingham and meet civic leaders face to face to explain plans to dramatically cut the broadcaster’s presence in the city.
An alliance of MPs and councillors has sent a hard-hitting letter setting out proposals to keep Birmingham at the heart of the broadcasting sector.
They include moving production of BBC3, the BBC’s television channel aimed at a younger audience, to the city. The politicians are also calling for Radio Two to be based in Birmingham and they urged Mr Thompson to ensure the BBC builds a drama studio in the city.
The letter, co-ordinated by Edgbaston MP Gisela Stuart (Lab), has been signed by Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) and Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley).
It was also signed by Liam Byrne (Lab Hodge Hill), Jack Dromey (Lab Erdington), Roger Godsiff (Lab Hall Green), Shabana Mahmood (Lab Ladywood) and Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak).
Councillors who signed the letter include Timothy Huxtable, the Conservative cabinet member for regeneration, Martin Mullaney, a Lib Dem and cabinet member for culture, and Sir Albert Bore, former city council leader and leader of the opposition Labour group.
They said: “We ask that you come to Birmingham and meet with us to discuss these proposals and how we can ensure that the BBC retains a substantial and meaningful presence in our city in the future.”
It follow the BBC’s announcement that it is to lose around 150 jobs based in Birmingham, under plans which include moving The Factual Unit to Bristol as well as cutting posts from radio, current affairs and news operations.
The letter to Mr Thompson warns: “The decision to drastically reduce the BBC’s presence in the City of Birmingham is unacceptable, unjustified and ultimately unsustainable. We write to you today as a cross-party group of elected representatives, at City Council and Parliamentary level, to urge you to think again.”
It adds: “We are not opposed to these proposals on purely sentimental grounds. We are united in the view that the continuation of a major BBC presence in the city is essential to the economic vitality of Birmingham and the wider West Midlands region.”
The politicians condemn the plans as contradicting the BBC’s claim that it is committed to the regions.
Letters: Page 29