Monday, 24 October 2016

K for Kernow

Following the much-heralded recognition of the Cornish people as a “national minority” through the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, radio amateurs from Cornwall contacted Ofcom to request that the new status be reflected in their call signs.

In their representation to the “independent regulator and competition authority,” the Poldhu Amateur Radio Club and various individuals pointed out that radio hams in the other Celtic parts of the United Kingdom had their own Regional Secondary Locators or RSLs.

Many people were delighted when Ofcom initially agreed to permit radio amateurs with a main station address in Cornwall to use their own distinctive RSL of “K” as part of their call signs.

Obviously, the symbolic “K” comes from the initial letter of Kernow.

But we were all extremely disappointed when the regulator changed its mind and the original offer of a permanent RSL was downgraded to a one-year temporary RSL for the calendar year of 2016.

That said, the use of the temporary RSL was well-received by radio hams in Cornwall and, earlier this month, Poldhu Amateur Radio Club sent a detailed submission to Ofcom.

This set out how the RSL had delivered a significant boost to their endeavours, while causing no problems whatsoever. The representation also appealed to Ofcom to review its previous decision and to make the Cornish RSL permanent.

I was pleased to be able to support this initiative and, with the Leader of Cornwall Council John Pollard, drafted a letter of support for the Poldhu Amateur Radio Club which was also signed by all the group leaders on the unitary authority; Adam Paynter (Liberal Democrat), Andrew Mitchell (Independent), John Keeling (Conservative), Tim Dwelly (Labour) and Bob Egerton (non-aligned group).

The response from Ofcom came extremely quickly – in about a week – and declined to agree to the extension to the Cornish RSL.

Their response is obviously discriminatory and it is clear that they had given little or no consideration to the Framework Convention. And it is my view that, following on from the “national minority” recognition, it would be unjust for Cornwall to be the only Celtic part of the UK not to have its identity respected with a bespoke RSL.

If you agree with me that this decision makes no sense at all, you might like to join radio amateurs throughout Cornwall who will be continuing to lobby Ofcom. The address to send letters to is Riverside House, 2a Southwark Bridge Road, London, SE1 9HA.

[This will be my article in this week’s Cornish Guardian].

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