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Letter: ‘We Are Incredibly Lucky In Guildford To Have The Dragon’

Published on: 6 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 6 Oct, 2020

From: Brian Creese, chairman of the Guildford Labour Party

Local newspapers have been the bedrock of our democracy for longer than most realise.

Far back in our history, newspapers, magazines, handbills, posters and even graffiti were how people learned what their leaders were doing and the comment by what is now the fourth estate.

The recent death of the most important journalist of my era, Sir Harold Evans, reinforces the stereotype. He began his illustrious career doing the rounds of courts and council chambers for the local paper before leading national campaigns for the Sunday Times.

The presence of that (usually) young journalist in the courtroom ensured justice was seen to be done, while that same journeyman’s presence at endless, boring council meetings was rewarded by uncovering just the embarrassing issues some leaders wanted to keep hidden.

That most communities in the UK now no longer have that dedicated local newspaper presence to ensure democracy is still functioning is a tragedy of our time.

We are incredibly lucky in Guildford to have the Dragon. As many of you will recognise, I spend a lot of time writing comments, stating policy positions and sometimes bitterly complaining about what has been said in its online pages.

What you may not know is that so often the first I am aware of an issue is when the editor asks for the local Labour Party view on it. The recent uncovering of the email from the leader of Surrey County Council about the government’s changing position on a single unitary authority was a case in point. Quite a coup.

Guildford Borough Council seems to have a traditional culture of secrecy which, so far at least, recent changes of political leadership does not seem to have affected.

The presence of a local news service, asking questions, looking at the details and sitting in on meetings many are happy to avoid means important issues are brought to the attention of the residents. Often, these can be issues our leaders would prefer not to discuss, but that is what is great about local newspapers.

Our Guildford Dragon NEWS is not a left-leaning, Labour-supporting news outlet. What it does do is allow us to have our say alongside everyone else which is important for us and for local democracy.

THE Guildford Dragon NEWS has a fine record on uncovering issues the borough and county councils wanted buried, and putting elected officials on the spot. It tells the residents of Guildford what is happening on their patch and does not shy from difficult questions.

All in all, I think we should be deeply grateful the Dragon exists, that there are unpaid and dedicated volunteers, the new “citizen journalists”, willing to run it, and readers hungry to know what is happening in and around our borough.

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test 3 Responses to Letter: ‘We Are Incredibly Lucky In Guildford To Have The Dragon’

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    October 6, 2020 at 6:20 pm

    Mentioned in Private Eye is all we need to know!

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 7, 2020 at 2:44 pm

    I concur, The Dragon is our only source of the truth about what goes on at GBC. This will hopefully improve under the new management, but we will still need The Dragon to hold them to account.

  3. Stuart Barnes Reply

    October 9, 2020 at 8:58 am

    I agree that The Dragon is an excellent source of local news. We are lucky to have it.

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