24th February 2018,
The situation whereby northern Cumbria receives it’s regional television output from the North East via BBC Look North and ITV Border’s tie-up with ITV Tyne-Tees can be called into question on the basis of travel times and distances to the nearest locations where significant news-coverage might occur outside of northern Cumbria. Anywhere that is beyond about an hour’s drive (50 miles away on a fast road) is not local to a particular location and travelling times that involve over one hour are beyond the travelling time that people are prepared to make to go on a day out, go on a major shopping trip or go to hospital. Here are some more distances and travel times to selected locations from six locations in northern Cumbria:
1) From Carlisle to the following destinations:
Newcastle- 58 miles and travel time of one hour and 17 minutes by car.
Hexham (Northumberland)- 37 miles and 56 minutes of travel time.
Carnforth (Lancashire)- 62 miles and exactly one hour’s travel time.
North Preston- 86 miles and one hour and 23 minutes’ travel time by car.
Annan (SW Scotland)- 18 miles and 32 minutes’ travel time.
From Carlisle, which is very much in the north of Cumbria, the North West destinations outside of Cumbria are only five minutes further away than the North East destinations. News from Hexham in Northumberland would be regarded as local as might news from Carnforth, in North Lancashire but Preston and Newcastle are not local by this measure. It is worth noting that Annan, just over the border into Scotland is less than a third of the distance of the other locations on average and it only takes 32 minutes to get there from Carlisle.
2) From Penrith to the following destinations:
Barnard Castle (County Durham)- 39 miles along the A66 taking 48 minutes to get there.
Hexham (Northumberland)- 41 miles via the A686 (shortest route by far) takes one hour and eleven minutes to get there by car.
Garstang (Lancashire)- 58 miles down the M6 taking 59 minutes to get there.
Morecambe (Lancashire)- 51 miles down the M6 and 55 minutes’ travel time.
From Penrith, the significant Lancashire destinations are both within an hours’ drive and (on average) have travel times three minutes less than the significant North East destinations. From Penrith, only Barnard Castle is local from the travel times, even though both the nearest significant North-East destinations are well within 50 miles.
3) From Shap to the following destinations:
Haltwhistle (Northumberland)- 51 miles and 59 minutes’ drive by car
Richmond (North Yorkshire)- 51 miles and one hour and seven minutes’ drive.
North Preston- 57 miles and just 55 minutes’ drive down the M6.
Shap is in central eastern Cumbria about ten miles south of Penrith. Not surprisingly it is quicker to get to the city of Preston in Lancashire than locations at the western fringe of North East England and news from Preston would, by the one hours’ drive measure, be considered local to Shap. Richmond, one of the nearest towns in North Yorkshire that BBC Look North covers is more than an hours’ drive from Shap and cannot be considered to be local.
4) From Keswick to the following destinations:
Haydon Bridge (Northumberland)- 54 miles and one hour and twenty-five minutes’ drive via A66, M6 and A69 (the fastest route).
Hornby, in the Lune Valley of North Lancashire- 50 miles and one hour and 17 minutes’ drive via the A591, A65 and A683 (the shortest route).
Gretna Green (just over the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle)- 46 miles and 47 minutes’ drive via the A66 and M6 (the fastest route).
From Keswick, at the heart of Cumbria North Lancashire’s Lune Valley is both closer and quicker to get to than the lower South Tyne Valley in western Northumberland. In terms of distance, Hornby is just on 50 miles yet Haydon Bridge (Northumberland) is not local by either the distance nor travel time measure. It’s worth pointing out that Gretna Green, just over the Scottish Border north of Carlisle is only 47 minutes’ drive and 46 miles away by the fastest route.
5) From Workington to the following destinations:
Haltwhistle (Northumberland)- 56 miles and one hour and fifteen minutes’ drive via the A595 and A69 (the shortest and fastest route).
Annan (SW Scotland)- 50 miles and one hour and six minutes’ drive via the A595 and M6 (the fastest route).
Ulverston (Cumbria)- 47 miles and one hour and 25 minutes’ drive down the A595.
Lancaster- 85 miles and one hour and 33 minutes’ drive via the A66 and M6 (the fastest route).
Workington is a major town in West Cumbria and so the distances to different locations ought to carry weight in deciding what the best TV Region is that should serve the town: None of the above destinations are local, in terms of travel time, not even Haltwhistle the westernmost small town in Northumberland to which it would take an hour and 15 minutes to drive to. Annan, in south-west Scotland is the quickest location to get to but it is still over an hour. Lancaster takes over an hour and a half and to Ulverston, a major town in the south of Cumbria it takes an hour and twenty five minutes; but Ulverston is the shortest distance and it is the only location within 50 miles. Clearly, ITV Border, which provides news coverage of SW Scotland as well as excellent coverage of all of Cumbria serves West Cumbria much better: Nothing that happens in either the North East , nor the North West of England outside of Cumbria is directly relevant to the good folk of Workington.
6) From Egremont to the following destinations:
Middleton-in-Teesdale (County Durham)- 81 miles and one hour and 51 minutes’ drive via the A595 and A66 (the quickest and shortest route).
Hexham (Northumberland)- 83 miles and one hour and 51 minutes’ drive via the A595 and A69 (the shortest, quickest route).
Morecambe (Lancashire)- 71 miles and one hour and 45 minutes’ drive down the A595, the A590 and M6 (the shortest and quickest route).
Barrow-in-Furness- 40 miles and one hour and 15 minutes’ drive down the A595 (the shortest and quickest route).
Gretna Green (SW Scotland)- 53 miles and one hour and 14 minutes’ drive up the A595 and M6 to just over the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle (fastest, quickest route).
Egremont is a sizeable town in west Cumbria with a population of just over 8,000 folk, it is not far from Sellafield. The nearest significant towns in the North East are almost two hours’ drive away whilst Morecambe (Lancashire) is one hour and 45 minutes away- some six minutes’ travelling time closer. Barrow-in-Furness, just 40 miles by road down the coast is (perhaps) local by distance but not by travelling time at one hour and 15 minutes, although this is over 35 minutes closer than Middleton-in-Teesdale and Hexham. Again, the one Scottish destination, Gretna Green is the quickest to get to at one hour and 14 minutes but is 53 miles away. Even so, all the destinations are well over an hours’ drive away.
As can be seen, an analysis of these six destinations overall show that there is little justification for North and West Cumbria as a whole having “local news” that is mainly about North East England. Nowhere in the North East is local to locations in West Cumbria, but there are a good number of significant areas of population in Lancashire that are just within an hour’s drive of towns close to the M6 like Penrith and (of course) Carlisle. A few more westerly rural locations in the North East of England are local to those parts of northern Cumbria near or just east of the M6 but this is certainly not the case for the more populous west of the county.
A regional television news service tailored to northern Cumbria would probably need to be North-West based (or at least based in Cumbria), provide over 40% news about Cumbria only but also provide some overlap coverage into southern Scotland (especially as parts of southern Scotland are local to a good number of places in northern Cumbria) and some overlap coverage of rural western parts of County Durham and Northumberland as far east as Newcastle for the benefit of folk living in the Carlisle area who might have an interest in what happens further to the east. People living in the south of Cumbria and Lancashire would welcome a little overlap south to include Manchester and Liverpool : This overlap coverage would take up no more than 10% of all news coverage altogether. Of course, ITV Border’s flagship news programme “Lookaround” comes closest to doing this by a country-mile. This explains why it is popular with Cumbrian viewers.
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