A campaign launched by a group of National World titles in Sussex, aimed at protecting green fields from development, has been shortlisted for a prestigious award. The Journalism Matters award highlights the vital role trusted journalism plays in a democratic society and highlights how independent news media can make a real difference to people’s lives and bring about change for the better.
In March, sister titles including SussexWorld, the Chichester Observer series, West Sussex County Times, West Sussex Gazette, Worthing Herald, Eastbourne Herald and Hastings Observer series, launched the Save Our Sussex campaign. As well as defending the countryside against overdevelopment, the action also pressed central government in Westminster to devolve housing numbers - along with many other powers - to local councils.
Aiming to highlight the huge pressures caused by unrealistic housing targets in a county sandwiched between the sea and the protected South Downs, it called for greater powers for councils to determine their own housing needs and annual targets, free from the influence of centralised calculations. They also advocated for stronger protection for greenfield sites than national policies currently provide, and raised issues such as the potential for crucial infrastructure such as roads, sewerage system, schools, and healthcare being unable to cope with a sharp increase in the population - giving a voice to local residents concerned about the issue.
Gary Shipton, editor-in-chief of SussexWorld and its Sussex newspapers said: "It really is time that key issues that affect the regions are devolved by Westminster to local councils. We know what is best for our communities.
"The amount of development that central government continues to demand of this county and its green fields is unsustainable. Everyone accepts the need for some low cost housing for local young people. The harsh truth is all this housing is rarely genuinely low cost and much of it is being bought by Londoners desperate to escape the overpopulated capital city in a post lockdown world."
Voting opens for Journalism Matters Making a Difference Award 2022
Supporters of the Save Our Sussex campaign can now vote for it to win the Making a Difference Award 2022. You have until 5pm on Wednesday (November 2) to cast your vote via the News Media Association website.
Save Our Sussex is one of 13 local and regional campaigns shortlisted for the 2022 Making a Difference Award as part of Journalism Matters, an annual initiative run by the News Media Association to highlight the vital role trusted news media journalism plays in our democratic society.
The News Media Association is the voice of national, regional and local news media organisations in the UK – a £4 billion sector read by 47.4 million adults every month in print and online.
There are 900 national and local news media titles published in the UK and, according to Newsworks, 61% of people agree newspapers play a significant role in making campaigns better known and more popular with 68% of under 35s believing a world without journalism would harm democracy.
NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “Campaigning by news media titles delivers real benefit for our society in all sorts of different areas. Part of the NMA’s Journalism Matters campaign, the Making a Difference showcase brings together these initiatives and tells the story of news media’s contribution to our democracy.”