BBC journalists have begun 48 hours of strike action over planned cuts to local radio.

Under the plans, BBC Radio Solent’s weekday evening programmes will be shared with Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

Three journalists at the radio station are facing redundancy with the likes of Paul Miller’s late show, Alex Dyke’s ‘Disco Inferno’ and Richard Latto’s ‘Stereo Underground’ to be replaced by national shows.

BBC South Today and National Union of Journalists (NUJ) member, Tom Hepworth, said he and his colleagues “feel striking is the only option” as they formed a picket line outside the BBC offices in Southampton on Wednesday morning.

He said: “We’re striking for 48 hours. We don’t do it lightly, we don’t want to strike, but we feel it’s the only option that we have to protect local services.

“The BBC’s got a finite amount of money and it’s decided to move more of that money to buy digital content, but at the expense of some BBC local services, local radio and possibly local television as well.

“We’ve tried to negotiate. The NUJ’s door has always been open. This is a last option and ultimately by doing this we’re losing pay. But it’s out of principal to stand by our colleagues who face losing their jobs and also the service that we know the listeners really value.”

READ MORE: BBC South journalists to strike for 48 hours over local radio cuts

He added: “BBC local radio and news is invaluable. It’s a lifeline to many people who wouldn’t necessarily be able to access the BBC’s content in any other way.

“They’re not necessarily going to want to listen to a podcast, potentially somebody who's grown up listening to Paul Miller’s show – which is hugely popular – which will now be replaced with an all-England show that might be broadcast from London.”

This is the second time BBC staff have taken strike action in three months. The NUJ balloted 1,000 members as part of the dispute and 83 per cent voted in favour of strike action nationally.

In a statement, a BBC spokesperson said: “We understand this is a difficult period for change for many colleagues and we will continue to support everyone affected by the plans to strengthen our local online services across news and audio.

“Our goal is to deliver a local service across TV, radio and online that offers more value to more people in more local communities.

“While the plans do impact on individual roles, we are maintaining our overall investment in local services and expect our overall level of editorial staffing across England to remain unchanged.”

Southampton Itchen MP, Royston Smith told the Echo that he was in favour of the strike, stating: “Local radio and journalism is, or should be, at the heart of what the BBC do.

“I think the decision to cut these important local services is wrong. I have supported the need for local news and content in the past, when they were under threat, and I will do so again.”

Lorna Fielker, deputy leader of Southampton City Council, added: “Local radio is a valuable resource for communities, regional presenters’ knowledge about their local area means they can deliver news stories that are relevant to local people.

“These programmes strengthen local communities, and at a time when life is tough for so many, bringing communities together is more important than ever. The BBC needs to rethink their plans reducing the amount of local news aired.”