Only serves a sector of the local populous

WHAT on earth is going on at the Weston & Somerset Mercury? Have you all lost your reporting scruples? I am referring to your 'news'-paper's inability

WHAT on earth is going on at the Weston & Somerset Mercury? Have you all lost your reporting scruples? I am referring to your 'news'-paper's inability to report stories accurately and in a politically unbiased fashion.'Serving the community for 160 years', you write. This certainly was the case historically, however your paper now only serves a sector of the local populous. All readers see now is a political love affair with the Lib Dems.At the last General Election, the people of Weston by a good majority, voted for John Penrose, a Conservative MP and an extremely hard working one at that. Yet your newspaper only ever reports local Lib Dem stories. This is not serving our community. This is a local Lib-Dem promotional rag.There are so many examples of this every week. Just last Friday you reported that thanks to the town's young people, the Lib Dem and Labour councillors and the Weston & Somerset Mercury, Barcode had been saved from the brink of closure. No councillors from any party had advocated Barcode's closure. What I understand (though not from your shoddy and muddied reporting), is that some councillors (Conservatives), were merely questioning the cost. Councillors have a duty to hold the council to account for all financial issues.In last Friday's report on Barcode Councillor Horler, the youth cafe's management board chairman, made extremely supportive comments.He is a Conservative, yet your paper chose only to mention Lib Dems and Labour. You have become biased and non-representative of your readership community. On the previous page, you reported how the Lib Dems wouldn't support Cllr Ley-Morgan as mayor because they wanted Cllr Horler put forward. Surely it is for the Conservatives to decide who they put forward for that civic honour, just as Labour and the Lib Dems decide who they put forward. Whatever the 'group' decision is of any political party, it is arrived at democratically and to allow another party to change this, as in the case of the Lib Dems saying they only wanted Cllr Horler as mayor, is to undermine that very democracy. Yet you report this as though the Tories should've gone along with what the Lib Dems wanted!While I understand that a newspaper can choose to favour one political party over another, the Weston & Somerset Mercury goes way beyond that. I am surprised the community which you so selectively now serve hasn't taken you to the Press Complaints Commission. I wonder if you can overcome your bias enough to print this. Go on, surprise us all!SHARON BROOMFIELD - Castle Hill, BanwellEDITOR'S NOTE: I hope you don't mind us exercising a right of reply after such a scathing attack.Your letter would suggest you are a Conservative supporter - apologies if our assumption is incorrect - and we cannot deny the local party has had some unfavourable publicity in recent weeks. However, I hardly think it is of the Mercury's making.As far as Barcode is concerned, the Mercury is proud to be one of its staunchest supporters. As we explained on page 6 of last week's issue, Lib Dem and Labour members of Weston Town Council backed Barcode throughout the debate on its future. Tories questioned the official figures and suggested it could be closed. Only when the option of delaying a decision on the future of the site for 12 months was removed did the Conservatives vote for it staying open. As for our scruples, well, they are where they have always been thank you. We believe we have the right to hold councillors of all political persuasions to account, and that is what we intend to carry on doing. Rest assured, we too believe in democracy!As for our report on the mayoral issue, we printed a factual report on what happened at a town council meeting. You have the right to interpret it as you wish. After the meeting, we made several attempts to get Cllr Ley-Morgan to respond to Cllr Bell's comments but received no response.Our stance on political bias was also explained last week (on page 9). We are regularly criticised from all sides of the political spectrum so, at the risk of repeating ourselves, we must be doing something right.Incidentally, did it escape your attention that our front page story last week recognised the consistent efforts of a prominent Conservative councillor (Mike Roe) to get a particularly sensitive issue highlighted? Then, on page 11, we gave extensive coverage to a news item brought to us by another well-known Tory (Elfan Ap Rees)... not forgetting Cllr Ley-Morgan's unedited letter of reply on page 6. I presume, too, that you are aware of the regular John Penrose column that we print?The fact of the matter is - and I'm afraid you will just have to take our word for this - if we deem an item is newsworthy we will print it, no matter where it comes from.

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