9th July 2019

On Friday I was delighted to welcome Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry to Morecambe, as he announced that Morecambe was through to the next stage of the Future High Streets Fund. A huge well done to the officers at Lancaster City Council for putting together a fantastic bid and for getting through to phase two. We now have lots of work to do to ensure that the funding comes to Morecambe. The visit was a fantastic opportunity to show the Minister all of the areas that were in our bid and to share with him our vision for the town. This can only help his understanding of our bid when it goes to the next stage.

Speaking ahead of the visit Jake Berry MP said:

High Streets are a crucial part of our local economies and people care about them because they are also the centres of their community.

But we recognise that changing consumer behaviour and the rise of online shopping presents a significant challenge and that’s why we are taking action to help them evolve.

Many of our high streets are successfully re-inventing themselves and with these new plans now in development, local leaders, who know their areas best, will be driving forward the transformation of their town centres into further great success stories.

On Thursday I was successful in securing a Digital Culture Media and Sport Minister on the subject of FM availability in North Lancashire. This question was tabled as a result of a meeting with Bill Johnston, formerly of The Bay and Jason Bryant from Radio Centre.

Speaking during Digital, Culture, Media and Sport questions on Thursday David Morris MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale asked:

What steps he plans to take to increase the provision of FM frequencies for commercial radio in (a) the UK and (b) Morecambe Bay. 

In response The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James MP said:

The UK’s independent broadcasting regulator, Ofcom, is responsible for radio spectrum planning, and Ofcom’s view is that due to the general scarcity of FM spectrum, the scope for additional frequency resources to be made available to commercial radio is extremely limited. Ofcom’s current priority for the use of remaining FM spectrum is community radio, and I hope that will be of benefit to Morecambe Bay.

As a supplementary David Morris MP asked:

Will the Minister carry out an investigation of the audit suitability for FM spectrum in the north of Lancashire as soon as possible, to free up any spectrum service that should be licensed, to facilitate a new local service, as we need more local services in that region?

In response The Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James MP said:

I agree with my hon. Friend that we need more local services, but there is more than one route to that. I cannot undertake to commence a review of the north-west specifically, and it is for the independent regulator Ofcom to distribute remaining FM frequency, but I would like to reassure my hon. Friend that the development of small-scale DAB multiplexes will provide many opportunities for community radio stations, not least in the Lancaster and Morecambe area.

I was really pleased that the Minister said that Ofcom’s priority was community radio for remaining FM spectrum. I have written to OFCOM and have asked them to review the spectrum in our area.’

If you are a constituent and would like my help with an issue please do not hesitate to contact me. You can do so either by email david.morris.mp@parliament.uk or by phone 01524 841225. Please include your full postal address.