EDP charity law change is 'first' for newspapers

EDP: Franzen’s campaign is a winner

A two-and-a-half year campaign by the Eastern Daily Press has secured a change in the law which could reap £250,000 for a Norfolk charity.

Staff at the paper were celebrating what they believe to be a newspaper first this week as a private members bill backed by the EDP went on to the statute books.

The bill changes an anomaly in the law which stopped permanent endowment funds applying for money from the National Lottery.

EDP deputy editor James Ruddy said: “We are all chuffed. It’s not often a local newspaper manages to change the law of the land. “It changes a stupid anomaly and should benefit people all over the country. That, to me, is what newspapers, and particularly local newspapers, are about – doing things that a lot of people say aren’t worth the effort and fighting campaigns.

“At the end of the day we are talking about up to a quarter of a million pounds for people who desperately need that money.” The Eastern Daily Press launched the “We Care Appeal” five years ago with the aim of raising £1m to set up a permanent endowment fund to help carers across Norfolk.

The fund works by paying out grants from the interest on the capital. Two-and-a-half years ago the fund’s trustees tried to apply for help from the National Lottery but found out the law prevented them from doing so.

The EDP approached local Norfolk MPs and asked them to sponsor a private members bill in the House of Commons. EDP editor Peter Franzen said: “It took two-and-ahalf years of work, including the preparation of detailed legal dossiers by our deputy editor James Ruddy and tough talks with no fewer than three senior ministers.

“We were scuppered by the general election initially, then had to restart the whole process from scratch. But we were supported by every MP in our region as well as several peers and countless volunteer experts. “It was cross-party teamwork and a fascinating insight into the workings of government and the parliamentary maze.”

The EDP We Care Appeal fund currently totals £765,000 – trustees now intend to apply for a lottery grant to make it up to £1m.

A spokesman for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport said: “We congratulate the Eastern Daily Press for its work in highlighting this anomaly and for its hard work and dedication in fundraising and promoting the cause of carers.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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