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UK regional press campaigns

Fighting injustice and pulling in cash

Regional newspapers across the UK are demonstrating their campaigning zeal on issues ranging from the state of playground swings to the allocation of Government cash.

One of the most vigorous campaigns has been waged by The Journal, Newcastle. Its Case for the North demonstrated how the Government’s Barnett formula puts the region at a huge disadvantage compared with neighbouring Scotland.

Hundreds of readers phoned to back the campaign for the formula to be scrapped after the paper declared: “If we received the same level of funding as Scotland, we could afford to build 20 new hospitals, take on 1,200 more teachers and dual the A1 from Morpeth to the Scottish border.”

Here’s a taste of some of the other campaigns in the regions:

  • The Northern Echo, Darlington: “A Chance to Live” aims to slash growing hospital waiting times for seriously-ill heart patients. The campaign was launched after the death of Ian Weir, deputy chief photographer at the paper. The Echo’s “Criminal Injustice” campaign calls for more Government support for the families of murder and manslaughter victims.
  • The Sentinel, Stoke: The paper’s campaign for cash to build a children’s hospice resulted in a developer offering to do the £2m work for free.
  • Brighton Evening Argus: “Justice for Jeff”, seeking tougher penalties for drivers who kill, was launched after the death of PC Jeff Tooley, mown down by a van he was attempting to stop during a routine speed check. The paper claimed success after a Home Office minister hinted at tougher penalties and a new charge of causing death by careless driving.
  • Aberdeen Evening Express: “Save Our Swings” was launched after Aberdeenshire Council proposed scrapping 150 play areas over five years to cut costs. Special car stickers were produced to promote another campaign, “Protect Our Kids”, aiming to banish speeders and slash road accident rates.
  • Yorkshire Evening Post: “Healthy Bones 2000 Scanner Appeal” was launched last October and by January had resulted in a £60,000 children’s bone scanner being handed over to Leeds General Infirmary. The paper promptly launched another appeal, for a £200,000 ultrasound heart scanner.
  • Herald Express, Torquay: The paper is pressing for a road bridge over the troubled A380 to end what it calls the stop-start misery endured by 36,000 motorists a day.
  • Several papers have launched campaigns to save local post offices threatened by Government plans to pay all benefits and pensions directly into bank accounts. The Western Morning News, Plymouth, has carried a series of reports highlighting the threat to rural areas and has won support from actor Edward Woodward, who lives in the area. Liked the WMN, the East Anglian Daily Times launched a protest petition and more than 30,000 people registered their support in the first week.
  • The News, Portsmouth: “A Right to a Local Hospital” attacked the planned closure of the Royal Hospital Haslar, Gosport. “March of the Masts” opposed Orange Personal Communications’ plan for a 49ft mast at a Meon Valley beauty spot.
  • Grimsby Evening Telegraph: The paper has been campaigning since 1997 for cannabis to be legalised under medical supervision. As the Medical Research Council announced that official trials were to begin, the paper featured a 57-year-old multiple sclerosis sufferer said she would jump at the chance to take part.
  • Scarborough Evening News: Working with NCH Action for Children, the paper aims to raise £250,000 for a new resource and respite centre for disabled children in Scarborough. A £25,000 legacy took the fund past £52,000.
  • The Citizen, Gloucester: “Sprinkler Campaign” was launched after a disastrous shop fire in Gloucester in 1996. By end of 1999, it had succeeded in changing UK fire regulations – sprinkler systems will have to be installed in all new single-storey retail stores of more than 2,000 square metres
  • Southend Evening Echo: The paper forced Southend Council’s new cabinet to meet in public. The Kent Messenger Group launched “Your Right to Know” in an effort to persuade Kent County Council to abandon cabinet secrecy.
  • Norwich Evening News: Macmillan Cancer Relief Nurse Appeal smashed its £30,000 target by raising £100,000 in just a year.
  • Coventry Evening Telegraph: Campaign to honour 60 Coventry firefighters killed in World War 2 succeeded after a year when a memorial was unveiled at Coventry Cathedral..
  • Western Morning News: “Fuel The Lifeboats” led to editor Barrie Williams collecting a national award for an unprecedented second time for the paper’s work in supporting the RNLI.
  • Northampton Chronicle & Echo: Since the £1.5 million Macmillan Northamptonshire Cancer Appeal was launched in the paper just over a year ago, more than £526,000 has been raised.
  • Hull Daily Mail: Readers were urged to back the paper’s Save Our Bobbies campaign by filling in a Page 1 coupon under the heading “The last straw, Jack”. Crime reporter Lisa Berry will deliver the coupons to the Home Secretary, urging him to increase police funding and save the jobs of 251 Humberside officers.

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