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Weekly organises 'audience' with PM in two days

A south-east weekly pulled together a local audience with the Prime Minister after being given just 48-hours’ notice.

Helen Fairley, chief reporter with the Kent Messenger, took the call from Downing Street asking if the paper could organise a meeting.

She feverishly secured a venue and contacted 50 guests who represented a cross-section of the paper’s readership, allowing time for security checks and arrangements.

Gordon Brown was eventually quizzed for an hour on a range of issues from local hospital services to the war in Afghanistan in a discussion chaired by the KM Group’s political editor Paul Francis.

Among the audience was Nina Babington-Browne, whose son Ben died this year in Afghanistan, who pleaded for greater resources for troops and thanked Mr Brown for his letter of condolence.

The Prime Minister also took questions from local school pupils on future employment prospects and university tuition fees.

Editor Bob Bounds, who welcomed the PM to Maidstone, said: “It was great to host the event especially when the PM was in the eye of a political storm over the Jamie Janes letter.

“My team worked tremendously hard to make sure the event went off without a hitch. It was incredibly well done and covered considering the notice we had.”

  • Editor Bob Bounds (left) with the PM and political editor Paul Francis
  • Comments

    Subbed Out (20/11/2009 10:47:02)
    So Downing Street is now ringing round local papers to get free PR for Gordon Brown before the election. Brilliant ! How many more papers are going to fall for it ? Naive or what ?

    Ben (20/11/2009 15:30:48)
    Or, to look at it in an ever so slightly less cynical way, local people get the chance to speak to the PM about issues that really matter to them.

    Hack (20/11/2009 16:47:50)
    …’local people get the chance to speak to the PM about issues that really matter to them…’
    What, like the sovreignty of their own country ? Don’t be silly, Ben.