As part of the budget cuts in 2011, the funding of almost £45,000 to the North Edinburgh News which had kept it afloat for many years, was immediately stopped. The final edition of the NEN was issued at the end of March, and many people might have thought that was that.
But Martin Hinds was chair of the board and refused to let the NEN die. Tonight there is a relaunch party in the Doocot and the paper has hit the streets again. 13,000 copies have been printed this month, with 11,000 delivered door to door and the other 2,000 distributed at various other outlets.
So where did the money come from? Well the staff were paid off last year from the sale of the only asset, the premises which they occupied on Crewe Road North. The office building was sold for £50,000 which has left some funds for running the paper for a short time without other income.
Martin Hinds, the chair of the NEN board said:-“The paper is now running from a base at Telford College who have kindly agreed to host the NEN there. They have set aside a desk space and a computer there for our reporter, Dave Pickering, to use. Dave was one of the three members of staff made redundant last year. He is now working as a freelancer at the NEN.”
At present the paper covers areas from Muirhouse to Royston, and includes Wardieburn, Telford and Drylaw. But the board have big ideas and are planning to distribute the NEN further afield into areas such as Stockbridge Blackhall by distribution of bundles of the free newspaper through outlets like the city libraries.
Hinds continued:- “We are confident of getting the advertising back. A large chunk of our income in the past was advertising, but we know that we will need to work hard at getting income to cover the costs of printing and distribution.”
We asked about the continuing need for the newspaper. He replied:-” Well, ever since we were threatened with closure – it was flagged up pretty well by the council in advance – there was an upswell of support from local community. They set up a Facebook page with a petition to try and save the NEN. Since we have come back we have also received lots of expressions of support.”
“We hope to keep going with advertising and any grants which might be available to do particular pieces of work. We have slimmed down. We had overheads from the office which we have now cut.”
“It is going to be hard work but there is a lot of goodwill out there, and some support from the community will allow us to keep going in the future. All nine of us on the board are volunteers, and we are prepared to work hard at getting the advertising income we will need.”
But, as a special treat, you can also read the first new version of the North Edinburgh News here:-