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Double campaign victory for weekly newspaper

A local newspaper has won two major battles for its town in as many weeks.

The Daventry Express, know locally as The Gusher, won a u-turn at the start of the month from Northamptonshire County Council which had decided to cut £32,000 of funding for a local community transport organisation.

The first campaign was to protect Daventry Area Community Transport which drives elderly, disabled and vulnerable people to places they wouldn’t otherwise be able to get to, such as hospital appointments.

The paper’s petition was signed by 11,102 people, 18.5pc of the adult population of Daventry district.

Editor Matt Cornish said: “We knew this was a popular service but were stunned at just how quickly the petition took off. From the first day we had dozens of people come into the office to sign the petition and letters of support poured in.

“We kept the pressure up with several stories, case studies and opinions highlighting the vital role DACT play in the town.

“To get 18.5 per cent of the entire district on board is incredible. When you get figures like that, local authorities have to listen and we’re delighted the county council changed its mind.”

The second campaign was in support of Daventry winning a £10m bid for a new University Technical College.

However, a row over a plot of land meant the college could have been lost.

A small group of residents put a village green application on a playing field to protect it from a Daventry District Council development plan for new homes which included the new college.

The timing of their application meant it couldn’t have been heard before the Department for Education’s deadline to get the college signed off. With doubts over the land, the DfE was likely to pull out and the funding would be lost to the town.

The newspaper stepped in and won a concession from the council to remove the college from the rest of its development plans, and urged the group to take land for the college out of its application.

After a number of meetings, stories, editorials and phone calls, the two sides and their legal teams got together last week and a compromise was reached just in time for the paper’s weekly deadline.

Added Matt: “This was a very tough one. Nearly everyone in town supported the college, but it was tied in with a very controversial housing development. Once the council dropped that, it was easier to support.”

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