"Let the Brexit chimes ring out - and for Sheffielders to hear as well as Londoners"
This letter sent to the Star was written by Cyril Olsen, Busk Meadow, Sheffield, S5
At 11pm on Friday, January 31, 2020 the UK will officially Brexit the European Union, free of its constraints and ready to trade with the free world in addition to our current European business friends.
To celebrate the occasion it has been proposed that the chimes of Big Ben should resound at the historic hour.
There are five bells in the belfry of which Big Ben is the most famous.
He and his partners are currently being renovated at considerable cost and the estimated additional cost of restoring his ‘apPEAL’ is £500,000.
Boris Johnson has suggested community fundraising to cover the cost, which may or may not raise the necessary funds.
The public are entitled to ask why such a large sum is required to do this work. Is the bell made of gold?
The national electorate should recall the pre-2016 EU referendum £9 million taxpayer-funded pro-remain leaflet sent to every household in the land by the then Prime Minister David Cameron.
In the face of severe criticism for perceived misuse of public funds he justified production and distribution of the leaflet by saying that the Government was not neutral in the Referendum, that they were doing what they felt to be in the best interest of the country and it was money well spent.
While ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ Boris could be forgiven for thinking of following Cameron’s example and funding the project at a fraction of the leaflet cost.
However, there is a simple solution costing nothing to enable the whole of the UK and not just Londoners to hear Big Ben in full majestic flow.
That bastion of Brexit impartiality ‘Auntie Beeb’, together with her ITV colleagues could all broadcast a pre-recording of the bell to the nation at 11pm.
The BBC is funded by the public via the TV licence fee.
In 2017-18 funding totalled £3.83 billion of which £655.3 million was provided by the Government through concessions for the over 75s.
The licence fee made up 75.7 per cent of the BBC’s total income of £5.06 billion.
While the Government does not control the BBC it does set the rate of the licence fee. Without that fee the BBC would no longer function at its current level and would be at the mercy of the independent companies when competing for viewers.
Should ‘Auntie Beeb’ demur from broadcasting the chimes, ‘Uncle Boris’ could always cancel the licence fee and leave her to compete with her independent rivals!