THE BBC decision to scrap the universal free TV licence fees for over-75s has been met with anger across the Bournemouth conurbation.

Free licences will now be means-tested, and households without someone who receives pension credit will now have to pay.

BBC director-general Tony Hall said the move was “not an easy decision”.

From June 2020 around 3.7 million households which previously received a free licence will now have to pay for one.

It is thought 1.5 million households will be eligible for the free licence under the new scheme, which will cost the BBC around £250 million by 2021/22 depending on the take-up.

The Daily Echo spoke to residents in Christchurch to see how they felt about the move, and the overwhelming feeling was one of anger and disbelief.

Jenny Cotton, from Christchurch, said: “I am very disappointed. I have a few more years to go, and I thought ‘that would be nice, I don’t have to pay for that’.

“Now I’m wondering if they are going to take away the bus passes as well.” Marion Blackmore, from Christchurch, said: “I think this is a total disgrace. It is not a benefit to us, we have worked all our lives, it is a right. There are too many things being taken away from the elderly in this country.

“They don’t deserve to be treated like that, it is just a total disgrace.”

Irene Draper, from Tuckton, said she thought the decision was “rotten, dead rotten.”

She added: “I spent more than 18 years working in elderly services with the local authority, and I know only too well how important these things are to people.

“Especially those that are at home on their own, their TV is often quite a good companion.”

Meanwhile, Eric Armes, from Southbourne, said: “What annoys me is that people like Gary Lineker get £1.5million a year, no-one should get more than £100,000 a year. It is ridiculous.”

“We have earned this paying taxes over 60 years.”

Licence fees were being reviewed by the BBC, with the full cost of concession due to be passed to the corporation from government in June 2020.

Facing financial pressures and attempting to streamline, the BBC has said previously that shouldering the burden of free licences would “fundamentally change” the broadcaster.

The threat of scrapping the free licence drew criticism from campaigners who stressed its importance for the elderly.

Veterans minister and Bournemouth East MP Tobias Ellwood said: “I am deeply concerned from the perspective of veterans – we have a million who are over 75. We have just acknowledged their bravery and sacrifice for standing up for our values and way of life. A week later here we are about to take away something which is valued. It is absolutely right that a free television licence should be retained.”

He added: “I will make the case and I will be writing to the director-general of the BBC to outline the importance of us providing support, particularly for veterans, who I am responsible for.”

Chairman of the BBC Sir David Clementi said: "Linking a free licence for over-75s to Pension Credit was the leading reform option. It protects the poorest over-75s, while protecting the services that they, and all audiences, love.

"It is the fairest and best outcome. It is one we can implement and endorse. This is an outcome that is the fairest possible in difficult circumstances."