LOCAL newspapers are critical to democracy

April 26, 2012

LOCAL newspapers are critical to democracy, according to Torbay MP Adrian Sanders.

The veteran politician said there was nothing to replace them in terms of holding decision-makers to account.

Mr Sanders was speaking ahead of a parliamentary debate on the future of local newspapers led by a fellow member of the Commons Culture Select Committee, Louise Mensch.

Ms Mensch said: "The local press performs a unique function in our democracy, as often only a local paper will hold a council or MP to account.

"Government has to look at ways of preserving Britain's most popular print media — read by an estimated 33 million people per month.

"When we think of so many things that are subsidised that have only limited appeal, surely there is a case for tax advantages for local papers.

"And if a pure profit model doesn't work, Government should look at ways to facilitate local communities and businesses owning their own papers — like the supporters trust model for football clubs."

Mr Sanders said: "In terms of holding decision-makers to account, there's nothing to replace it. It's critical for the functioning of a good democracy."

The MP only had one complaint about the Herald Express.

"It's too big to read in the bath," he joked.