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Ipswich Evening Star’s robust and thoughtful journalism

Front page of Evening StarThe Evening Star in Ipswich yesterday had a powerful editorial urging Suffolk County Council not to go ahead with its cuts. The heading was simply “YOU’RE WRONG!

It starts on the front page and continued on two inside pages. Unfortunately, I can’t find it on their website, but if anyone can provide the link, please put it in the comments below.

The editorial begins:

On the day a savage package of cuts is rubber-stamped at Endeavour House, The Evening Star urges out decision-makers to think again.

We say the drastic axing of crucial services — many of which cater for the most vulnerable in society — is avoidable.

Then follows a cogent examination of the budget which argues for the use of reserves to “ease the pressure”.

The reserves are crucial because they include £3.4 million put aside for “business transformation” and £4 million put aside for “management of change”.

Part of the budget that was approved yesterday, is £3.6 million to be spent on “management of change”.

As the Evening Star says there are echoes of the New Strategic Direction running through the budget. The NSD is a policy to make Suffolk CC and “enabling authority” which outsources its services to charities, social enterprises, charities and voluntary groups. (During the budget debate, the Lib Dem leader, Kathy Pollard described it as the New Sadistic Direction.)

One of the most significant things in the editorial is not in the main text. In the front page image (above) there are two circular pictures and a caption which reads: “THINK AGAIN: Our message to county decision-makers Jeremy Pembroke, top, and Andrea Hill.”

Jeremy Pembroke is the council leader, a Conservative, while Andrea Hill is the Chief Executive, who should not be a decision-maker. This treatment in the paper, neatly reflects the suspicions in Suffolk that Ms Hill, unelected and highly paid, is usurping democracy by driving the New Strategic Direction poicy.

Nigel Pickover, the editor of the Evening Star, and his team are — in this post I am returning to my media blogging mode — providing a great example of the kind of robust and thoughtful journalism of which much more is needed in the regions.

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