Sunderland unions say local papers are vital to democracy

Mark Taylor, president of the Northumberland and Durham branch of the PCS Union, with Ashleigh Ivison, Gilbridge House Office representative, at an open meeting in the Indigo Rooms, Sunderland, about the proposed closure of the HMRC office.
Mark Taylor, president of the Northumberland and Durham branch of the PCS Union, with Ashleigh Ivison, Gilbridge House Office representative, at an open meeting in the Indigo Rooms, Sunderland, about the proposed closure of the HMRC office.
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THE Echo plays an important role in enhancing local democracy according to a Wearside union leader.

To mark Local Newspaper Week, Mark Taylor, branch president of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), has told how he has worked on a number of stories with the Echo and that a fair and balanced view is put across.

Most recently, the Echo has highlighted the union’s warnings that moving tax office jobs away from Sunderland city centre could result in £10,000 a week of lost trade for local businesses.

Since late last year, the controversial process has been followed in detail in the newspaper and online, right up to the decision to close the offices, which is reported in today’s Echo.

Despite the disappoint at the announcement, Mr Taylor has been delighted the union has a chance to have its say in the Echo.

He said: “I’m over the moon with what the Echo has done for us. I haven’t got a bad word to say about it.

“We’re not always everyone’s cup of tea so to have that balance in the reporting is vital – the tone is absolutely critical.”

Mark says trying to do his job without the Echo is inconceivable and he says that without the hyper-local reporting possible in such a local daily, many union members could be left wondering what work was being done to help them in their area.

“The Echo is an absolutely vital ingredient in what we’re trying to do,” said Mark. “Losing the Echo to us would be terrible.

“It’s a great way of getting our messages out. A lot of the work the PCS does is at a national level and so national newspapers will often overlook the smaller offices, like ours.

“When stories appear in the Echo, though, we can say to our members, ‘look, we’re trying to get our message across to people’.”

Twitter: @sunechomark