Masses of snow, much of Cumbria cut off. Scarcely a mention on North West Tonight or Granada.

2nd March 2018,

The last couple of days have seen bitterly cold easterly winds, which have originated over northern Russia bring the most severe snows and blizzard conditions in the last forty years. Communities have been cut-off, shops have run empty of essentials and homes have lost power across the North West of England, as elsewhere in the country. The M62, the main transpennine route from the North West to Yorkshire has ground to a halt as motorists became stranded for hours in blizzard conditions. There has also been coverage of roads such as the A628 at Woodhead Pass, in the Peak District east of Manchester being closed, and major disruption to routes in Cheshire, East Lancashire and Greater Manchester on both BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada.

All well and good, but Cumbria has been by far the hardest hit over the last three days: Communities have been cut-off, people have lost electricity and many quite major routes in the county have been closed. Isolated communities have run out of basics such as bread and milk because deliveries have not got through due to the snow. Where people have been able to drive in Cumbria there were frequent mishaps on the icy roads. Yesterday (1st March ) there were one hundred incidents on the M6 near Shap (Jct. 39). Virtually nothing of this was mentioned on either ITV Granada nor BBC North West Tonight. Only two days ago did either the BBC North West or Granada give some token coverage of a few road closures and a warning from Cumbria Police for folk not to travel. I don’t think this does justice to folk who live in South Cumbria (and indeed in North Lancashire) who would like to be informed of what goes on in their own county, or just forty miles up the M6 from Lancaster. The situation has approached that of a local emergency across much of Cumbria, there are farmers who cannot get to livestock- and people living in Kirkby Lonsdale or Milnthorpe (too far south to get ITV Border) are told the roads are snowy, some roads were closed (not updated) and the Police advise you not to travel! Is that it??

Meanwhile, the severe cold snap has seen plenty of reports of homeless people freezing in Manchester and Liverpool, a thief being arrested in Greater Manchester after police followed his foot-prints in the snow and a mass of icicles at Kinder Scout in Derbyshire’s Peak District (and Derbyshire is NOT in the North West).

It really is time for both the BBC and ITV to invest more in regional news bulletins in the North West, particularly for Lancashire, Cumbria and the Isle of Man.

Ian Pennell


4 thoughts on “Masses of snow, much of Cumbria cut off. Scarcely a mention on North West Tonight or Granada.

  1. You make the big mistake of thinking that people in Furness identify as ” cumbrians”. Many don’t, seeing themselves as Lancastrians. I personally couldn’t give a toss about what is happening in Carlisle, Alston, Whitehaven or Penrith. It’s not my “county.”


    1. The area around Barrow in Furness used to be in Lancashire, though since 1974 it was designated as part of the newly-created county of Cumbria. This did indeed cause a lot of upset at the time.

      Barrow and the Furness peninsula is indeed over an hour’s drive from the northern half of Cumbria, but it is also a very long way from the urban conurbations of Manchester and Liverpool, to which it would take two hours to get to either by car or on the train. I wonder how many folk in your area are actually happy with having regional news that is 80% dominated by what happens along the M62 Corridor?


  2. Oh dear! Both Furness and Cartmel areas remain within the county of Lancashire as confirmed by the Duchy of Lancaster, Department for local government etc. This was a fact established and publicised way back in 74. In very large part the media chose to ignore it and “move” our area into the political confection that is “cumbria.”

    I live in the middle of Furness, it is 57 miles to Preston, i drove from Fulwood yesterday, it took me a minute or two over 60 minutes.

    Carlisle is 76 miles away. I don’t go there but guess it would be a 2 hour+ drive. The train up the coast is a journey of over 3 hours, via Lancaster..again in excess of 2 hours.

    I walk a mile from my house and can easily see Lancaster, Morecambe, Heysham and Blackpool. Lancaster is a 40 minute train ride.

    Overall, we identify much more with Lancs than cumbria. My town has 12000 population. Manchester, Liverpool and their environs will have millions. Naturally, more news will occur there and reporting from there will be predominant. I can happily accept that so long as anything happening in Preston/Lancaster/Furness is reported too.

    The radio this 5..reports that the RAF are assisting villages in north cumbria, hit by blizzards. I’ve never heard of the places, never been there and have no fellow feeling or affinity with them. On the other hand, I know and have visited Manchester, Wigan, Liverpool, Bolton etc.

    Maybe the BBC could reopen its Lancaster news room which I argue would be more relevant to us than Carlisle and the rest of cumbria.

    Interesting blog by the way. Well done!


  3. Hi Stephen,
    I’m glad you find the topics interesting. There are certainly times when BBC North West Tonight and ITV Granada Reports fail to get much north of the M62 Corridor, which means that places like Barrow-in-Furness, Ulverston, Morecambe, Heysham and Blackpool get overlooked. The North West Region extends from Crewe in South Cheshire right up to the Scottish Border, north of Carlisle and this is certainly not reflected in the distribution of local news coverage in the North West.

    I have argued that, since both the BBC and ITV spend considerably less on Regional News in the North West than elsewhere in England and Wales, that both should invest more into providing opt-outs for the north of their North West broadcast areas. This could be done, as you say, by re-establishing the Lancaster base that fell victim to cuts and upgrading it so that news could be broadcast from there via the Lancaster transmitter for the benefit of viewers in northern Lancashire, South Cumbria and the Isle of Man.
    This area deserves nothing less.

    Unfortunately, neither the BBC in the North West, nor ITV Granada will do anything unless folk make a fuss on a big enough scale! I am working towards garnering enough support for change by regularly drawing attention to the Deficit in so-called local news provision for more northerly parts of the English North West through this site. You are welcome to tell your friends and colleagues about this site towards that end.

    Ian Pennell


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