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Local MPs voice regret at newspaper’s closure

Local MPs representing areas covered by a doomed weekly newspaper have voiced regret at its forthcoming closure in a Commons motion.

Trinity Mirror announced the demise of the Harrow Observer last month as part of a series of other newspaper closures inclusing those of the Reading Post and Surrey Herald.

Two MPs from either side of the political spectrum have put their names to a Commons early day motion about the issue.

Gareth Thomas, Labour MP for Harrow west, and Bob Blackman, who represents Harrow East for the Conservatives, are among ten MPs who have so far backed the motion.

Mr Thomas said: “I was very sorry to hear that the Harrow Observer is closing down. It has played a key role in fostering a sense of community in the borough, helping people to know what was going on and reporting on what young and old, new and long term residents have been up to.

“It has always been a crucial forum for debating local important issues and it will leave a big gap.

“Given the vital role that local newspapers play in informing our local democracy, I am calling for a short cross-party and inter-departmental inquiry to see how we can protect and secure a future for local newspapers.”

The National Union of Journalists has previously called for a similar inquiry into the local press industry.

Mr Thomas’s comments follow a motion passed by the union’s Trinity Mirror group chapel condemning the proposed closures.

It said: “The decision will deprive many communities of local news and make it extremely difficult to sustain a credible news presence in many others.”

Trinity Mirror has so far declined to comment further.

The full text of the EDM can be read here.