Sidmouth Herald should keep town base say councillors

PUBLISHED: 16:22 16 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:15 17 June 2010

IT IS vital the Sidmouth Herald keeps a base in the town, say town councillors, who agreed to debate its office closure at its February meeting. I propose we discuss it with utmost urgency, Councillor Graham Liverton said at Monday s town council meet

IT IS vital the Sidmouth Herald keeps a base in the town, say town councillors, who agreed to debate its office closure at its February meeting.

"I propose we discuss it with utmost urgency," Councillor Graham Liverton said at Monday's town council meeting.

"The Sidmouth Herald has been the lifeblood of the town with 150 years' history."

The paper's editorial staff is being re-located to Exeter Airport Business Park headquarters today (Friday).

His response came after Sidford resident Freddy Wedderburn, during public question time, asked: "Will the council please do something to help keep the Sidmouth Herald in Sidmouth?"

Mr Wedderburn has, with Councillor Chris Wale, instigated a petition in the town to keep a base for this newspaper's editorial team in Sidmouth.

He said: "We as citizens of Sidmouth are concerned at saving this very valuable institution. Some way or another we have to find space, a room locally, so reporters can do their job efficiently."

Chairman Councillor Tom Cox said he had emailed Archant South West's managing director Bernard Driscoll last month when he heard the news.

Mr Driscoll replied, saying Archant found itself "between a rock and a hard place" over its offices in Sidmouth and Exmouth.

With advertising revenues affected by the economic downturn and a significant increase in newsprint, it had to cut costs while maintaining the quality of its newspapers and journalists.

"The alternative to not closing the office would be to reduce costs elsewhere which would almost certainly mean losing staff, including journalists, which I am trying to avoid at all costs.

"I totally agree local newspapers play a vital role in the life of local communities and I sincerely hope that in the event of the office being closed, we will continue to do just that.

"We will still be as much a part of the community as now, regrettably without the easy access the current office provides.

"I can assure you this proposal has been given a lot of thought and I deeply regret we are having to do this."

Councillor John Dyson said: "I think it is vital the chief reporter has a base in this town. It doesn't have to be a whole office... Being based at Exeter airport is not good enough for this town.

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