BBC journalists in Southampton are set to stage a 24-hour walkout today to protest against cuts to local radio.

Members of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) working in Southampton will strike from 11am, hitting coverage of the spring Budget announcement.

The industrial action by journalists in radio, TV, and online coincides other national strikes from teachers, junior doctos, civil servants and London underground workers.

About 5.7 million listeners tune in to BBC Local radio stations each week, but proposals by the broadcaster will cull services and mean only 40 hours of guaranteed weekly programming.

NUJ members will head to pickets on Wednesday and Thursday, following the union’s clear mandate from 83 per cent of balloted members, who voted in favour of strike action.

In Southampton, protests will take place outside the BBC South Today and Radio Solent offices in Havelock Road.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, 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." 

Paul Siegert, NUJ national broadcasting officer, said: “Plans by the BBC to cut local radio services will have a lasting impact on journalists and listeners who rely on services each week for the breadth of programmes produced.

“This is the biggest shake-up for several decades and runs contrary to the BBC’s own claims of valuing local services.

“Members on strike this week want the BBC to present a solution that can resolve this dispute and prevent widespread cuts.”

Over 1,000 journalists are expected to take part in the strike action throughout England.

A BBC spokesperson said: “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.”

The plans come as part of cost-saving measures, as the BBC previously said that due to a freeze in the licence fee and inflation it faces a £400 million funding gap by 2026/2027 and must make savings.

Some 382 jobs at the service are being lost as part of plans to move to a digital-led offering, it was announced in September.