How Pont News & Views Started

Pont News & Views is a monthly community magazine for the civil parish of Ponteland. The first issue was in October 2005 and it has been published monthly since then. It is delivered without charge to households and businesses in Ponteland, Medburn, Kirkley, Prestwick, and Milbourne all these communities make up the civil parish of Ponteland.

2051490_Pont News Issue 1Ponteland had previously received some community news via the Neighbourhood Watch magazine. This was produced and delivered by volunteers but many households did not receive it. Eventually, Neighbourhood Watch was unsustainable and ceased. This loss left a local news vacuum as we did not have a local newspaper which concentrated principally on this area. Various ideas were floated to fill this gap.

The then Ponteland Parish Council (now Town Council) was working to achieve Quality Status. An essential requirement was to produce a newsletter about the Parish Council’s activities four times a year. This they were doing. The Ponteland Community Partnership (PCP) was also keen to communicate with residents

Fortunately, the Castle Morpeth Borough Council had commissioned consultants to examine the communities of Ponteland and Morpeth. They were able to identify weaknesses and strengths in each. Our lack of a regular community newspaper was highlighted as something that could be overcome. They suggested that we produce a monthly publication, printed cheaply on newsprint. Articles would come from local people and organisations. Advertising could defray the cost. The Parish Council was keen to adopt this idea. They recognised the need for an independent, unbiased editor to prevent the publication being hijacked by any one group. The Parish Council and the PCP held frequent talks on how to achieve this. Cost was a major consideration. Finding a suitable editor proved difficult. The Borough Council’s Chief Executive suggested that their publicity officer Chris Jennings, a former journalist, could do the job as a separate contract, provided it did not clash with his Borough role. We all agreed and Chris became editor. Part of his job was to raise income from advertising, negotiate good printing and delivery costs so that the magazine would become financially sound. The Parish Council agreed to underwrite the cost of PNV until it was established.

From the start the editor set a high standard. The first issue was eight pages, topical, printed in colour on good quality paper and delivered to the door. A tremendous achievement by Chris, who still remains editor. A small management committee from the PCP and with local councillor members, supports the editor, watches over the finances, and insures that PNV remains unbiased. A member of this committee originally looked after the finances, produced regular accounts and was ruthless in chasing any bad debts. For administrative purposes the Town Council now handle the PNV accounts.

After ten years, including recession, Local Government reorganisation and many local changes, PNV is still going forward. It serves our community and is a major source of information. PNV is now self-financing.

Read the very first Pont News & Views PN&V Issue 1 Oct 2005