In The Market, by Mark Leslie, December 19, 2017
This will be the final In The Market column of the year as the Lynn News Tuesday is taking a well-earned rest on Boxing Day before appearing refreshed and reinvigorated to face the challenges of the new year.
It is therefore a time to reflect a bit on the past 12 months, which has seen some big changes in this parish.
For a start, we had a new owners with Iliffe Media buying us and assuming control in January.
That move and the substantial investment in the paper that it brought directly led to the second big change of the year – our move to new premises at the end of November.
Moving out of rented accommodation and buying a grade II-listed property on the Tuesday Market Place has certainly signalled our intention that the status quo is not an option – we want to improve our product and our service to our community in every way.
Already we have seen upgraded paper and stapling used on our product, ones that frankly make those papers still using standard newsprint seem like tawdry local rags.
It has been a good year here at the Lynn News and I hope that you feel that we continue to serve West Norfolk well.
I know from the surprisingly large number of emails and letters complimenting our coverage that we are appreciated.
I even take the brickbats as some kind of back-handed compliment, because I know that you care what we print. We matter to you.
The year hasn’t ended with many people feeling particularly festive towards county councillors who voted to up their allowances by a hefty 10.5 per cent.
The unanimous view of our readers who have commented online is that this is indefensible.
I really have to say that it is hard to understand the thinking behind the move.
Yes, councillors deserve ‘pay’ in the shape of allowances, otherwise you would be left with a very skewed sort of council chamber, where only those who could afford the largesse of giving their time for free would represent us.
But I don’t actually think that being a councillor should be a job. Allowances should be exactly that, not pay for a job, but expenses to help cover the time and expense that must inevitably accrue if you are devoting yourself properly to the task of being a councillor.
We want councillors, regardless of party, who are of the community. Some may be rich. Some may be poor. But all of them should at least recognise the struggles that everyday people meet in their wards and may talk to them about.
They are not MPs, of course. Their powers are very limited and they get precious little thanks for all the hours they put in, But this has to go down as something of a massive own goal, in my book.