Call to save free TV licences

Calls to save free TV licences for the over-75s have sparked a row over who is to blame for the decision.

Both Tory and Labour councillors submitted notices of motion to a full meeting of Blackpool Council expressing anger at the move to scrap the free licences.

But while Labour blamed the Conservative government for cutting subsidies to  the BBC, the Conservative group said the decision was down to the broadcaster.

Following two recorded votes, a motion submitted by Labour’s Coun Peter Hunter to send a letter of protest to the Government was agreed.

Tory group leader Coun Tony Williams’ motion to write to the director general of the BBC was rejected.

Coun Peter Hunter proposed the council “calls on the Conservative led government to stand by their 2017 election manifesto promise to protect the free TV licences for over-75s.”

But Coun Williams attacked Labour for making the issue political and his group refused to back the motion, with Labour then voting against his motion.

Coun Fred Jackson said he had attended the recent Pensioner’s Parliament at the Winter Gardens where the issue had prompted huge anger.

He said: “The strength of feeling at that packed assembly that day against this decision was amazing and the number of residents in Blackpool who fall into this category is immense.

“We have a duty to defend these people, and for many their TV is their only contact with the outside world.”

Scrapping free TV licences will affect around 6,620 households in Blackpool.

Free licences were given to the over-75s as part of a Labour government programme to reduce pensioner poverty. Fifteen years later the government funding was cut by the Conservatives.

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