Fear have been raised that already curtailed gardening radio will be cut further and that will be to the detriment of local nurseries, gardens, charities and retailers - as well as ordinary gardeners. Local knowledge of soil conditions and weather is essential, say broadcasters, while interaction via live broadcasts can't be done through podcasts or many forms of social media.
Petition organiser and gardening PR Vikki Rimmer said: "Most of the garden programming that goes out across the different regions are broadcast on a Sunday. The current proposals are for afternoon, evening and weekend programming to be shared by regions. This will put radio gardening broadcasters out of a job but it will also affect pretty much all the gardens to visit in the UK, as well as NGS open gardens, smaller garden events, charities and nurseries who want to share garden news.
The petition states: "BBC Local Radio supports everyone in the community by sharing stories, large and small, our triumphs, our disasters, help needed and community action being taken. It is quite simply the voice of our community and it's specific to our region.
"The current £19m cuts planned to the local BBC radio service will see the current regional programming cut and instead shared across counties in the afternoons, evenings and weekends, with the loss of jobs and also the loss of a vital voice for many in the community.
"There will be less space to talk about our charity endeavours, events, community action needed, support delivered or services in crisis. There will be too much competition for space and not enough local knowledge to share the essential stories of our community.
"Local knowledge and action are the definition of 'grass roots', and without a mouthpiece our communities will be weakened.
BBC local radio was a life-line for many during Covid, especially those who were house-bound and alone. The news that their 'friend' will be irrevocably changed may be hard to take.
"Once the service has begun to be dismantled, it will be impossible to put it back together again.
"Please help us to call on the BBC to rethink their plans to weaken local BBC radio and to support it rather than dilute this unique service."
Many local radio gardening slots have already been cut with experts such as Ken Crowther and Chris Day losing their roles. Covid ended some shows such as West Midlands and they have not returned.
Broadcaster and writer Howard Drury said "the majority" of gardening has already gone: "It's such as shame it's gone the way it has. When I do BBC Radio Hereford and Worcester when Reg Moule's not available we never run out of calls, questions and emails."
He added: "Gardening phone-ins don't fit with the BBC mode of programming. One or two stations are still doing them, going against the BBC."
Garden writer and broadcaster Val Bradley said: " A lot of people will feel very let down over this decision, mostly older folk who listen in every week. Radio Kent get calls from all over the country plus France, Germany and beyond." Steve Bradley does BBC Radio Kent gardening every alternate Sunday for four hours and Radios Sussex and Surrey about eight times a year. He's already heard from Surrey, saying he doesn't think the Dig It show will continue after the New Year." This means 130 hours a year.
Steve Bradley said : "Local radio gardening shows vary from 1-4 hours per week, and I was told a while back that all of the local radio stations which offer gardening (a few don't), the listening figures for gardening was always in the top three at each of these stations."
BBC director of nations Rhodri Talfan Davies said: "The plans will help us connect with more people in more communities right across England, striking a better balance between our broadcast and online services and ensuring we remain a cornerstone of local life for generations to come."
#The DCMS Committee’s session on Thursday 1 December will explore the implications of the proposed changes and the impact on listeners.