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Regional Broadcasting (East Midlands)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:30 pm on 30th March 2004.

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Photo of Alan Meale Alan Meale Labour, Mansfield 3:30 pm, 30th March 2004

I am grateful for that intervention, which is absolutely true. I represent an east midlands seat that almost borders the area covered by northern regional television, which comes from Leeds. It is easier for colleagues and me to attract news services from Leeds than from Birmingham—it is almost impossible to get news coverage from Birmingham, even for specialist events. I remind the Minister of a tragic event in my constituency a few years ago: the announcement of the closure of almost every pit in Nottinghamshire. Even that could not persuade Birmingham to send news coverage crews; stringer and independent services were employed, which did not cover the event as seriously as they should.

I also remind the Minister that a little over two decades ago, a major campaign was launched by east midlands Members of all parties for a regional television centre in the east midlands. That was an active and successful debate, because the Government of the day accepted that the east midlands needed an opportunity to show its character through a centre for news and current affairs delivery for local people. In the same spirit as that of 20-odd years ago, I intend to give way to any colleagues from the east midlands who want to participate in the debate. It is imperative that we engage in this debate if we are to have any chance of saving an essential service.