Arran Banner praised at Holyrood in bid to save local newspapers

Maurice Golden - Conservative - West Scotland

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The work of the Arran Banner has been highlighted at Holyrood as opposition parties united to call for more help for newspapers.

MSPs voted for the Scottish government to extend business rates relief for newspapers for another year amid warnings the sector could face collapse due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

And West Scotland MSP Maurice Golden, who spoke during the debate, referenced the Arran Banner, pointing out it featured in the Guinness Book of Records for having the most saturation of any newspaper in the world.

It appeared in the book for achieving a readership level of 97 per cent of the island in 1984.

Mr Golden, who is the party’s shadow economy secretary, said 3,000 jobs across Scotland depended on the newspaper industry, not to mention the vital role they played in upholding democracy in Scotland.

During his speech, Mr Golden said: ‘Notable examples of journalism excellence include the Arran Banner, which once achieved a Guinness World Record for reaching 97 per cent of Arran’s population.’

The Scottish Conservative MSP added: ‘It should be a priority for this SNP government to help bring these papers back from the brink before they are lost forever.

‘There are 3,000 people directly employed in the newspaper industry in Scotland, all of whom face a threat to their job because of SNP inaction.

‘The industry is on its knees, with advertising revenue crashing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

‘This is about saving jobs and protecting a vital part of our democracy, and the SNP government should never have let it get to this stage.’

The rates relief announced this week will also apply to newspaper offices, which were removed from the initial list but have now been reinstated following lobbying from the sector and political pressure.