BBC local radio defended at Westminster debate

Private Members' Debate, Westminster Hall
Image caption Dr Coffey spoke at the two-hour Private Members' Debate in Westminster Hall

Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey has said the BBC should not consider cutting local radio and should find savings in other departments instead.

The Conservative MP was speaking during a two-hour Private Members' Debate at Westminster Hall.

The BBC has said 20% savings need to be made by 2017 as a result of the freezing of the television licence fee.

The corporation said it was "wrong" to speculate on the future of its radio output.

Earlier this year Dr Coffey put forward an early day motion to try to get support for BBC local radio.

Sixty-six MPs signed the motion, but it has not been granted a full debate in the House of Commons.

BBC national and local radio is funded by the television licence fee.

Speaking at the debate, Dr Coffey said: "BBC local radio reaches about 7.4m listeners across its various stations and that includes 2.5m people who do not listen to any other BBC radio station."

'Opinions not asked'

Dr Coffey praised her local station BBC Suffolk for its help in raising £3m for the new East Anglia's Children's Hospices centre in Ipswich and for helping publicise a police knife amnesty.

She added: "One thing that concerns me is that licence fee payers have not been asked for their opinion."

Roger Gale, Conservative MP for Thanet North, said: "There is a huge amount of waste [across the BBC]. 

"I would like the new BBC chairman to ensure this is tackled and allow the light of local radio, which illuminates people's lives up and down the country, to be able to continue to burn."

In statement about the future of local radio, the BBC said: "No decisions have been made so it would be wrong to speculate."

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