GALLERY: Momentous day as new edition of the EDP launched into the Fens and Ely with champagne, coffee and cake

Eastern Daily Press Fenland Edition launch. March Mayor Andrew Pugh.

Eastern Daily Press Fenland Edition launch. March Mayor Andrew Pugh. - Credit: Archant

Champagne, coffee and cake heralded the arrival of the Fenland edition of the EDP shortly after the first copies had hit the newsstands.

Eastern Daily Press Fenland Edition launch.

Eastern Daily Press Fenland Edition launch. - Credit: Archant

Guests at our informal launch at Audmoor House, March, expressed delight at the first daily Fen edition- and were promised this is only the beginning.

Nigel Pickover, editor in chief, told guests: “This is a big investment into Fenland- be under no illusions about that.”

He said the Fenland edition of the country’s largest selling regional daily paper completed a massive overhaul of editions since he took over last year.

“We are very proud of our product, and very proud of Fenland,” he said.

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“Some have got the impression the EDP may have left communities but we didn’t and we haven’t. I must emphasis, too, this is not going to be a Norwich paper foisted on Fenland – it is going to be a Fenland paper for Fenland people.”

He said the EDP would campaign, where needed, against bureaucracy and be a champion for the people.

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Mr Pickover was asked if there was room for a new paper, particularly one that had a cover price.

“To get our stories is an expensive business,” he said. “We have offices throughout the region – and you have to pay to get a newspaper of quality.”

He could understand some people’s reluctance to see the market for a new paper, and he said he appreciated their view.

“But I think when they see it and read it they will realise just how committed we are and what the EDP can offer,” he said.

MP Steve Barclay attended the launch and said he welcomed the Fenland edition.

“It will be a regular read and I am delighted to support this investment into area,” he said.

Councillor Alan Melton, leader of Fenland District Council, said: “It’s a great product and your first edition has set the benchmark. It’s fantastic and very welcome.”

Cllr Melton added: “I’m a regular supporter of Peterborough United- and I and many others will welcome that fact you had made coverage of Posh such a priority.”

Councillor Martin Curtis, leader of Cambridgeshire County Council, was unable to attend because of a meeting at Shire Hall but sent his best wishes for the new edition.

He told John Elworthy, newly appointed community editor for the Fenland edition: “I wish you and the Eastern Daily Press every success with the project.

“Any move that gets Fenland noticed more and talked about more has to be a good thing, I am sure it will prove of benefit to both the people of Fenland and to the Eastern Daily Press.”

Mr Elworthy spoke of the work behind the scenes to get the new edition off the ground and of the realisation of a long held ambition to see the EDP return to the Fens.

“It doesn’t mean Archant is neglecting its weekly titles – far from it. But this provides another platform for our pool of talented journalists and shows most of all the commitment that our parent company Archant has to local newspapers,” he said.

“It’s a very proud day for me but also a very proud day for local journalism.”

He thanked everyone in the company who had worked towards delivering the Fenland edition, singling out his colleague Tom Jackson for his efforts to help manage three weekly papers and now a new edition of a daily paper.

Commercial manager Andy Orchard praised the small team already working in Fenland, and particularly Nick Boister who has been a stalwart of the weekly papers for 16 years.

“We will strengthen and develop our team in Fenland,” he said. “The EDP has a proud tradition of working with businesses of all sizes and shapes and we look forward to an exciting future.”

The mayor of March, Councillor Andrew Pugh, and the mayor of Wisbech, Councillor Samantha Hoy, also attended the launch, and Trevor Bevis, author of 126 books on Fenland, was also on the guest list.

Rev Anthony Chandler, priest in charge of St Mary’s, March also attended: he had a particular interest in the paper – he featured on pages 1, 2 and 3 of the first edition.

There was a late surprise for guests- shortly after compiling a report for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, broadcaster Johnny Dee donned his other, off duty, hat to give a 20 minute rendering of songs and music in his usual inimitable style.

Somehow a little bit of rock and roll – with a touch of Elvis too- seemed right on a day when there was indeed much to shout, and even sing, about.

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