THE NORTHUMBERLAND SCOTTISH BORDERS REGION LACKS REAL NEWS COVERAGE ON REGIONAL TELEVISION- AND RECENTLY LACKED THE WHEREWITHALL TO WATCH IT TOO!

6th December 2021

Dear Readers

On the 26th November 2021, the evening after this picture was taken in rural south-west Northumberland, communities in areas covered by those shown in the above picture- that is the Tyne Valley and looking north across western rural Northumberland to the Scottish Border were without power as violent storms battered the North East of England and eastern Scotland. Viewers in these areas could not see the Regional News on BBC Look North or ITV1 News Tyne Tees, let alone see a Regional News- service providing good coverage of their area. Many folk living in these areas would remain without power until the beginning of December 2021.

VIEW NORTH FROM ALLENDALE COMMON ACROSS THE TYNE VALLEY TO THE DISTANT CHEVIOTS. 26TH NOVEMBER 2021

The response of local emergency services- and Northern Powergrid- in helping get power to those affected was commendable, but with almost 100,000 homes in the North East of England- mainly in rural Northumberland and rural County Durham- not getting power for three, four, up to six days the question has to be asked “Why were the Army not drafted in?”. Why was there not a national response to so many folk in rural areas losing power- and being without during the coldest winter weather so far this year (it went down to -8˚C in the North Pennines overnight 27th/28th November with six inches of lying snow). The British Army did arrive after thousands of folk had been shivering for over four days, they brought in generators and provided hot food for local folk (details here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-59473400).

However, affected households were also cut off from all contact with the outside world. People would not have known where road congestion was, whether roads were passable (this being after the first real snowfalls of winter fell) or, indeed, what was happening in their electric- cut communities. The premise of this website is that folk in rural Northumberland require a reliable news-service that keeps them up to date in what is happening where they live and in other places they are liable to frequent: A Regional Television News-service is, arguably, better than none at all. A tip for readers, for if they are ever in such a situation again whereby they have no electricity, is to buy a radio operatable with batteries, then find your local radio stations on it. BBC Radio Newcastle covers Tyneside and Northumberland, (it’s mostly Tyneside news) but (hopefully) if large parts of rural Northumberland are without power you will be told about it. BBC Radio Newcastle can be found on 95.4 FM, 96 FM, 103.7 FM, 104.4FM (whichever one is best will depend on where you live in Northumberland) and also you can get it on 1458 AM. If you wish to find out what is happening across the Border into the Scottish Borders then Radio Borders can be found on 102.3 FM near Berwick upon Tweed and 96.8 FM if you live in the North Tyne- near Bellingham or Otterburn (though the Cheviots might interfere with the signal as it is transmitted from Selkirk).

However, the best defence against getting cut-off from the outside world (and much else besides!) in the event of a power- blackout is to invest in a generator, if you have the means to buy one. If you do not have the technical expertise to install a generator a local electrician will be able to assist: The £4,000 cost of a generator that will enable you to have light, keep warm and watch the local news plus £500 for an electrician to install it will be worth it for your peace of mind. It will probably  increase the value of your home by more than this outlay. You do not know when the next big black-out will come!

However, even for those not hit by black-outs, the period from 26th November through to the start of December has not exactly been a great one for great Regional TV for rural Northumberland, either from BBC1 Look North (NE/ Cumbria) or ITV1 News Tyne Tees.

Of news that folk in northern and north-west Northumberland might have wanted to know about from the 26th of November through to today, but were not informed about either by BBC1 Look North or ITV1 News Tyne Tees there has been a great deal- mainly weather-related that could have had major impacts on their lives. These happenings include:

  • School-children in Berwick upon Tweed have missed a considerable amount of education following serious  storm-damage to two schools in the town.
  • Snow and high winds closed the A68 at Carter Bar and travel north of Newcastle on the A1 (or by train) from 26th through 27th November was impossible (this only got a very brief mention). This will have had an enormous impact on people living in mid or northern Northumberland who may have had to travel from a job in Tyneside, yet there seems to have been little mention of this. And what of folk in Northumberland without a car who might have needed to travel to relatives with electricity if they had lost theirs? If no buses and trains were running in northern Northumberland, folk would have remained restricted to their cold dark homes.
  • More than 200 seal pups were killed by Storm Arwen on the North Sea coast at St Abbs Head- just ten miles north of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Unfortunately, because it was over the Scottish Border neither BBC1 Look North nor ITV1 News Tyne Tees touched it.
  • No mention that the main railway line between Carlisle and Newcastle was closed on 26th through 27th November due to Storm Arwen. This is well within the north of BBC1 NE/ Cumbria and ITV1 Tyne Tees transmission areas, so no excuse at all there! This will have directly affected folk in towns like Hexham and Haltwhistle!
  • The A7 in the Scottish Borders- between Hawick and Selkirk- was closed due to flooding on 26th November. No mention for the folk in north-west Northumberland who might have had reason to travel that way, since neither of the two North East- based Regional TV News outlets ever overlap into the Scottish Borders for any reason!

All these happenings were quite significant for folk living in Northumberland, shut schools, roads, and railway lines with the potential to affect tens of thousands of North Northumbrian residents. If the Regional TV News services with authority for providing news as relevant to Northumberland communities cannot or won’t cover such significant happenings they are failing in their duties.  As for rural communities that lose power in storms- and are  four or more days, they lose all news coverage and much else besides. If climate change means more powerful winter storms in future, remote northern communities and households would be advised to invest in generators, or (if that is unaffordable) battery-powered radios (with a supply of batteries), so that folk can remain informed. However, local authorities must be quicker to get the Army in to supply generators (and the Government must support such endeavours), so that rural households are not left freezing, without power and cut off from all news of the outside world for more than a couple of days!

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