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Our pledges to you as the Eastern Daily Press enters its 150th year

PUBLISHED: 05:59 01 January 2020

Happy new year to all our readers. Cromer New Year's Day Fireworks Credit: Colin Finch

Happy new year to all our readers. Cromer New Year's Day Fireworks Credit: Colin Finch

Archant

Editor David Powles outlines his team's priorities for 2020, the Eastern Daily Press' 150th year.

Staff and volunteers at the current Priscilla Bacon Lodge. Photo: Priscilla Bacon HospiceStaff and volunteers at the current Priscilla Bacon Lodge. Photo: Priscilla Bacon Hospice

Your Eastern Daily Press is celebrating its 150th year in 2020 - and it matters just as much now as it always has done.

A bold statement I know, which is why I wanted to get it out there straight away. Not only do I believe it is absolutely true, my team and I will spend the next 12 months proving so.

But first can I start by wishing every single one of our readers a happy and prosperous new year and say thank you for the custom and loyalty you have shown during 2019. Whether you access us through print, online, video or social media your support means so much.

As has been discussed many times before in this annual January 1 column, the regional media is in a very interesting place at the moment and landmark anniversaries such as the one we have now entered really bring home the challenges we face.

An artist's impression of the new Priscilla Bacon Hospice. Photo: Priscilla Bacon HospiceAn artist's impression of the new Priscilla Bacon Hospice. Photo: Priscilla Bacon Hospice

For decade after decade since 1870 the tools may have changed, but ultimately the priority has been largely the same, produce a newspaper for the community six days a week, 52 weeks a year.

The internet has changed all of that and now my team of hard-working journalists is tasked with not only producing cracking newspapers, but keeping our ever growing online audience informed with almost round-the-clock news, sport, entertainment, analysis and so much more.

And it gives me heart that you keep on coming back for more...and more.

In 2019 your Eastern Daily Press reached record audiences of up to, and often above, 200,000 people every single day. Name me anything else in the region that touches so many people's lives on a daily basis?

The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England.The A47 between Blofield and North Burlingham. Pic: Highways England.

And that's why, going into 2020, I feel confident about our place in the community and our ongoing ability to serve it well. Hopefully you feel the same.

The recent general election has shown the importance of having a strong and independent local media in a community. Whilst social media is over-run with noise, fake news and mis-information - you can rely on us to be impartial.

While some of the nationals take whatever stance suits them or their owners - you can rely on us to aim to be fair and balanced.

We might not always get it right - we're only human and when you consider we publish something like 6-800 stories a week, there may at times be error. But the only biased we will ever show is towards what is best for Norfolk and Suffolk.

One of Greater Anglia's new trains at Cromer railway station. Picture: Stuart AndersonOne of Greater Anglia's new trains at Cromer railway station. Picture: Stuart Anderson

But please don't take this as complacency. We are anything but. The 150th anniversary has already acted as a good opportunity to do some reflection of where we need to go over the next few years.

And while our priorities remain largely the same; including to present the news, fight your injustices, hold to account, celebrate success and generally do good for the community, I am determined we step up our game even more in these key areas.

Therefore our first pledge in this new year is to put our journalistic talents to even greater use, fight even harder on the key issues that matter to you and put the decision makers under even more scrutiny. We'll be fair, but firm.

Easy to say I know, but as always you the reader and your loyalty (or otherwise) will be the judge as to how well we do.

Hemsby Beach, one of many that needs protecting in 2020.  Picture: James BassHemsby Beach, one of many that needs protecting in 2020. Picture: James Bass

In this anniversary year we also plan to launch a series of exciting new initiatives and campaigns that will hopefully further enhance our positive impact on the region and your enjoyment of and satisfaction with what we do.

We've recently expanded our award-winning investigations team to enable us to look even more closely at the big issues that matter most.

In terms of campaigns we are already backing the vitally important bid to open a new Priscilla Bacon Hospice for Norfolk and I hope that in 2020 we can get close to, if not reach, the magic £12.5m mark.

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And I'm also pleased to reveal that later this year we will be continuing our focus on the growing mental health crisis, by officially getting behind former MP Sir Norman Lamb's new charity, which promises to do so much to help sufferers in Norfolk.

And there's much, much more to come so watch this space. It promises to be a busy 150th year but we're ready to work hard for this fine county and its people.

ISSUES FACING THE REGION

Prior to the general election these were the 13 key issues we identified as facing the region and in need of attention. We called on prospective MPs to pledge to fight for every single one. As we move into 2020 we will continue to hold the powers that be to account over these and any other matters that impact our readers. They are:

- Parity of esteem for mental health and finally get the mental health trust out of special measures

- Continue to fight for full dualling of the A47

- Fight for more sustainable cash for our councils so crucial services can be provided

- Solve the social care crisis to improve care for our vulnerable and older people

- Increased scrutiny of rail performance, appropriate investment, better east/west links and making Norwich in 90 minutes the norm

- More funding to protect our erosion-threatened coastline

- An end to poor mobile phone coverage and better broadband to boost rural connectivity and business

- More affordable housing to be built while protecting Norfolk and Waveney's character and a guarantee of adequate provision where there are new builds

- Pledge to drive down carbon emissions by investment in public transport and cycling lanes

- Stamp out the scourge of county lines drugs gangs by increasing investment in a dedicated team of police officers

- Money for the 45,000 women in Norfolk and Waveney affected by changes to the state pension age

- A longer-term promise is needed to ensure classrooms have resources with a particular focus on children with special educational needs

- Norfolk and Waveney's farmers must get a commitment from government to a post-Brexit trading regime which prevents a flood of cheap imports

What are the issues that matter to you? I'd love to hear what you think we should cover. Please email me at david.powles@archant.co.uk

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