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More than 1,000 journalists to strike over local news cuts

Michelle Stanistreet 1More than 1,000 journalists are set to walk out tomorrow morning in protest at the BBC’s planned changes to local news.

National Union of Journalists members working across England for BBC Local will begin 24-hour strike action from 11am in a move designed to affect the corporation’s coverage of the Budget.

It comes after 83pc of those who voted backed action following the BBC’s proposals to share local radio programming across its 39-station-strong network.

A continuous work to rule will also begin on their return from 11am on Thursday.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet, pictured, said: “Staff are striking this week as a last resort – they are under no illusion that the BBC’s plans will undermine already hollowed out local radio content across England.

“It’s not simply a question about jobs and conditions for our members – they believe passionately in the value that quality local content brings to their audiences, journalism that is trusted and relied upon in the communities they serve.

“The BBC’s raiding of local radio budgets to fund its Digital First strategy is wrongheaded and risks undermining a vital part of our public service broadcasting. People want local relevant news that is accessible, and that should remain a core part of the breadth of BBC output.”

The plans, revealed in October, will result in a loss of posts and journalists having to re-apply for their own jobs.

At the time, the BBC announced the proposed loss of 139 radio roles and a concurrent investment in local digital journalism to create 131 new jobs.

A compromise put forward by the BBC which would have seen less content sharing was rejected by 70pc of NUJ members, according to the union.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We are disappointed at the outcome of the ballot.

“Our local plans are about delivering an even better service to communities across England, reflecting how audiences use the BBC, strengthening our online provision and increasing the impact of our journalism.

“We have consulted extensively with the NUJ over recent months and adapted our plans in response to feedback.

“We have assured teams working across our 39 BBC Local bases that we will maintain overall investment and staffing levels in local services and we’ll work hard to minimise the risk of compulsory redundancies.”