Council to battle BBC in over 75s licence plan

Council to battle BBC in over 75s licence plan

7 August 2019

NEWRY, Mourne and Down Council is to take up the fight against the BBC over the planned scrapping of free TV licences for the over 75s.

The council is set to ask other councils to write to the BBC to show their concern about the move set to come into effect by June 2010.

It will also arrange a meeting between it and local senior BBC NI representatives, as well as the Newry and Mourne Senior Citizens Consortium in order for the officials to “hear at first hand the impact that this decision will have”.

The BBC announced its decision in June to cut free TV licences for the over 75s unless they are in receipt of pension credit.

In 2015 the government told the BBC that it would need to take over the cost of providing the free licences out of its own budget.

The notice of motion was introduced at Monday night’s full council meeting by Cllr Liz Kimmons.

Downpatrick councillor John Trainor supported the motion on behalf of his SDLP colleagues.

He said: “TV is a very important part of older people’s daily lives. However, let there be not mistake that this is all the BBC’s doing as the Tories introduced a decrease in the funding to the BBC in 2015.”

Rowallane councillor Billy Walker also pledged the support of his DUP party colleagues.

However, he suggested an amendment the council should contact other councils, except Belfast City Council which has already made its views known to the BBC, so that a unified opposition may be make known.

He suggested that the TV licence fee should be scrapped for everyone as “it was a waste of money”.

Independent councillor Henry Reilly said that he felt that the BBC’s decision was “unenforceable” against any older person who decided not to pay the fee.

He raised a laugh when talked about his issues with the BBC’s impartiality and called for it to be disbanded, adding: “Even RTE gives us a fair shout.”

Councillor Kimmons welcomed the cross-party support for her motion and added: “It’s good to see we are all united on this.”