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Council row editor launches fight to secure independent weekly’s future

An editor blacklisted by a local council has called for financial help and urged readers to play a part in deciding the newspaper’s future – but says he may “call it a day” if such support is not forthcoming.

HTFP reported earlier this month how Thurrock Council had decided to no longer respond to comment requests from the Thurrock Independent due to what the authority claimed were “vexatious and unreasonable” requests from its editor Neil Speight.

The Independent, founded by Neil 15 months ago, has since received support over the issue from the News Media Association and regional publisher Archant.

Following the saga, Neil has now called for readers to help the Independent financially, and has further announced plans to form an editorial board made up of people from Thurrock.

Neil Speight 1

In a statement on the Independent’s Facebook page, Neil said: “I started the paper 15 months ago because I wanted to make a difference in Thurrock. I certainly think we have done that, but it has not been done without cost to me and my family and to the small team who have stood by me and have worked unbelievably hard with passion and determination.

“To be honest, at the moment I am frustrated, I started the paper to promote the good in Thurrock but force of circumstance means almost every week when we print I am finding I am fighting ‘city hall’ and negativity. I am fed up of being perceived as negative but how can I ignore the corruption, moral or criminal around us? If the Thurrock Independent doesn’t report it, who will?”

He added: “I would like to offer the Thurrock community of volunteers and great people the chance to form an editorial board to direct where we go with this paper. I make no secret of the fact that financially I need some help, but more importantly I want the people of Thurrock to share in where we go from here.

“If we are doing a decent job, we can do better. If I am barking up the wrong tree, let’s call it a day. I would welcome your views on the way we can act as your representative and your watchdog. And if you want to come on board and make this a truly community-owned project, please get in touch.”

Thurrock Council has previously told HTFP it has a policy of not commenting on the specifics of individual cases.


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  • August 21, 2018 at 11:10 am

    Perhaps the good people of Thurrock should follow the example of their local democratic leaders by failing to respond to communications from the council – particularly the ones containing their Council Tax bills.

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  • August 22, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    So is he wanting readers to cough up money to keep the paper afloat?

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