CHAMPAGNE corks were popping in Salford tonight after final confirmation of the BBC’s big move north.
The news was broken first in later editions of today’s MEN and on our website. It’s been a very hectic last 12 hours.
Just over two years ago I sat in BBC director general Mark Thompson’s office as he revealed for the first time plans to move five departments to Greater Manchester.
I spoke to him again last November when he visited the site of the proposed Media City at Salford Quays.
It was clear then that the move was poised to go ahead, even though many still thought it would never happen.
Today the sceptics were proved wrong.
The BBC had gone too far down the Salford road to turn back. Everyone agreed it was a good idea which would save money in the long term.
The only problem was paying the upfront costs, with a new licence fee settlement giving the BBC less cash than it needed for its future plans.
The cost of the move has now come down from £400m to £190m over the next six years – and £250m in total.
That means the BBC can afford to pay for Salford from within their existing £200m annual borrowing limit.
No-one should underestimate the importance of today’s news, which paves the way for Salford’s Media City – a development of global significance.
There’s more on the story in tomorrow’s MEN, including extracts from a chat I had this afternoon with Broadcasting Minister Shaun Woodward.
He said: “It is not just fantastic news, it is a historic moment in the evolution of Britain’s economy.”
The actual physical BBC move will take place in the first half of 2011. Based on similar operations by other companies, the BBC estimate that some 50 per cent of their London staff will actually relocate.
Salford’s Media City opens up a whole new world of possibilities for workers in creative industries across the north – and talented youngsters still at school, who might otherwise never have thought about getting involved in this area.
Welcome to the future.
Confirmed: BBC Is Moving North