A weekly paper published an extra edition for the first time in living memory after a controversial £90million town centre plan was approved by councillors.
The Macclesfield Express hit the streets on the morning of the meeting, carrying the results of its own opinion poll on plans for a new shopping and cinema complex in the town as its front page.
The meeting of the planning committee came to a close after more than eight hours of discussions and legal wrangling – and when they finally gave the project the green light, editor Gareth Tidman rallied the reporting team to pull together a special edition.
“This was a historic decision on the future of Macclesfield town centre,” he said.
“We felt that we needed to pull out all the stops so that we were able to provide the in-depth coverage, reaction and analysis our readers have come to expect from us in the immediate aftermath of the decision.”
The special edition featured a poster front page plus four changed pages inside, dedicated to reports from the meeting, what was said, and the controversy surrounding the new development.
Several thousand copies of the special edition were on the streets by the following morning.
The poll was launched just two weeks before the decision, and found that 82pc of the 348 people who responded were opposed to the proposals.
In an attempt to stop vociferous repeat-voters skewing the results, strict rules were imposed on the ‘Reader’s Referendum’. Votes were only able to be cast by filling in a form printed in the paper and handing it into the paper’s office, with no photocopies allowed.
“We were delighted to get the number of votes we did in just two weeks. It really showed the strength and depth of feeling in the town,” Gary added.
“We realise that we would have got more votes if we had taken the poll online but felt it would have been too vulnerable to abuse.
“It allowed our readers to make their views clear on a subject affecting everyone in the town.”