As your local news title, we believe firmly in the importance of trusted local journalism to communities up and down the UK.

At the Saffron Walden Reporter, we invest in trained journalists who seek to challenge authority and hold power to account on your behalf, bringing you the news that matters when, where and how you want it.

Our audiences are huge – 40 million people (73 per cent of GB population aged 15+) now read local news media in print or digital every month.

Trust in our journalism is rising too. A recent survey found 81 per cent of Brits agree that they trust the news and information they see in their local news media – a rise of seven per cent on 2018.

It’s no secret that the business model for local journalism is facing some challenges, but we remain fully committed to finding a truly sustainable future for our sector.

And we’ll get there. We just need a bit of space and time to do it.

Two years ago, the BBC published highly controversial plans to transform its local journalism services.

A huge public outcry continues to surround the ‘Across the UK’ plans to inflict swingeing cuts on the corporation’s hugely popular local radio services with much-loved presenters.

Instead, some of the money would be diverted into boosting the BBC’s digital services, ramping up its provision of local news online.

Why does this matter?

It’s no exaggeration to say that some local news titles may be forced to close if the ‘Across the UK’ plans are not stopped, leading to the BBC becoming the lone voice in some local communities.

A voice, by the way, that doesn’t have the same freedom to campaign on your behalf like we do, because of impartiality requirements.

For anyone who believes in freedom of speech, as we do, that’s a pretty terrifying thought.

The problem lies with the BBC’s enormous and unique power - granted to the corporation by the licence fee - and the impact of this upon other news providers.

The licence fee enables the BBC to do things the commercial sector can’t, such as running websites with no advertising or paywalls on them.

We are always up for fair competition. Fair competition drives innovation and quality in many different sectors.

But, because of the enormous power of the licence fee, the BBC’s ‘Across the UK’ plans are the exact opposite of fair competition.

Under the plans, online readers – and the commensurate advertising revenues which we use to pay our local journalists – will be sucked away from our websites to the BBC’s.

That pressure on our resources, at a time when we are grappling with a host of other challenges could cause some local titles to call it a day.

That would be a disaster for the communities affected.

So, far from boosting local journalism, we believe the BBC’s ‘Across the UK’ plans will in fact irrevocably damage local news.

What’s more, there is no need for the BBC to do this – the commercial local news sector already serves communities across the entire length and breadth of the UK.

Enshrined in a Royal Charter, guardrails which are supposed to prevent the BBC misusing its power in this way have completely failed.

So, we need your help to tackle this problem.

By contacting your MP and asking them to write to government about this issue you can make a real difference.

Your MP can express concern about the impact of the BBC’s ‘Across the UK’ plans and ask government what steps it is going to take to get the BBC to change course.

The local news sector believes in and values the contribution the BBC makes to our vibrant news ecosystem.

But there is a real risk that the ‘Across the UK’ plans could wreak untold damage on our vibrant local journalism sector.

We cannot allow that happen.

With your help we can get the BBC to be a better neighbour to local commercial titles, ensuring a vibrant and diverse local news sector for many years to come.