Thursday, 25 October 2012


After ceasing publication on 13th September, due to financial difficulties, the Tameside Reporter is to be re-launched today (Thursday) following a buy-out by the housing company, New Charter Housing Trust Ltd.  In a joint statement issued by both the newspaper and New Charter, both organisations have stated that as from tomorrow, 15,000 newspapers are to be delivered free and a further 10,000 are to go on sale to the public at a cost of 45p.

Although all previous staff were made redundant, Nigel Skinner the Editor, is to remain in charge of both the Tameside Reporter and the Glossop Chronicle with David Jones remaining as news editor for the Chronicle. The newspaper is also to recruit two new trainee reporters.

Although New Charter and the Tameside Reporter, say the newspaper will remain 'entirely independent' with its own editorial staff and will be 'community focused', this has been brought into question due to the intimate links that exist between New Charter and Tameside Council.  The Manchester and Salford branch of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), have even suggested that there is 'suspicion' that New Charter could  be acting as a 'proxy' for Tameside Council in buying the newspaper.

There are currently five Tameside Councillors who have declared their employment with New Charter in the register of council members interests. The Executive Leader of the council, Kieran Quinn, is listed as a Director of the New Charter Building Company. Cllr. Jim Middleton, is also a Director with the company as well as Cllr. Gerald Cooney, who is the Chairman of New Charter Housing. Cllr. Maria Bailey, is a board member of the New Charter Housing Trust and Cllr. Vincent Ricci, is a board member of the New Charter Building Company.

Apart from now owning a Tameside newspaper, New Charter also owns Tameside Community Radio Ltd and sponsors three Academy schools in Tameside - New Charter Academy (formerly Hartshead school), Silver Springs (formerly Ridgehill school), and Copley school in Stalybridge. In addition the C.E.O. of New Charter, Ian Munro - a former Tameside Council employee - sits on the board of school governors of Tameside College, New Charter Academy, Silver Springs, and the Tameside Sports Trust, that runs recreational facilities on behalf of Tameside Council.

Time will tell whether the Tameside Reporter continues to exercise editorial independence under its new owners. But will the paper be happy to print articles and readers letters that criticise the local council, New Charter or their various other business interests? Some poeople think not! One person who recently reponded to the Roy Greenslade, Guardian media blog, had this to say about the New Charter buy-out:

'We are in for lashings of corporate agenda and the banning of dissenting voices.'  If this is the future for local democracy in Tameside, then God help us!


Anonymous said...

With Tameside Council looking to sell off "The Kremlin", it's rumoured that New Charter are looking to buy it as who else would want to?

I wouldn't be surprised if New Charter expand its educational remit and start looking to take over Tameside College. It's on the cards that New Charter are looking to take over the troubled Sports Trust.

Welcome to New Charterside!

Steve Starlord said...

Hey, don't ya know, that Ian Munro, CEO, is on the Board of School Governor's at Tameside College!

He's also a School Governor on the Board of the New Charter Academy (no suprise there with that name) but also the Silver Springs Academy (former Ridge Hill). Copley has also recently become an Academy.

At whatever School Ian Munro becomes a School Governor, it seems odds on that it shall soon achieve Academy status!

New Charter have formed many Companies recently. One of these, New Charter Academy, formed in 2007, recently changed it's name to Great Academies Education Trust (24 Feb 2012). It's raison detre appears to be that of 'helping' schools achieve independence from Tameside Council, and an end to local democratic accountability for schools now run as Academy businesses.

But what do Tameside Council get out of this? Well, for one, they no longer have to pay for the upkeep of the schools that become Academies. They are no longer Council 'maintained' schools. They have, in effect, been disposed of and are no longer council managed buildings.

Love, Light & Laughter