Ally Tibbitt of Greener Leith tells a hilarious story of the bizarre world of corporate disconnect staring a phone box in Edinburgh – and through it he highlights how, unlike a local paper, hyperlocals can keep hold of a story, shining a spotlight can drive neighbourhood improvements in their patch, as he says, one phonebox at a time if necessary – S&S
Greener Leith is an independent small local charity with an open membership that has been running since 2006. We don’t just do hyperlocal news, but it is a big part of what we do. We work in the space somewhere between a hyperlocal blog, a transition town and a civic trust.
Our website is ultimately community owned and although we do carry ads on the site, any money we make is invested into the charity. Virtually all the content since the site was established in 2006, has been produced by volunteers.
The tram cometh
Anyway – back to the phonebox. Here it is (right), way back in 2010.
This phonebox was on Leith Walk, which if you know Edinburgh, is one of the main streets in the city. Google Streetview has helpfully preserved what it looked like before the Edinburgh tram works started.
A great example by Ray Duffill of how Hedon Blog became the gathering point of the community and struck out against a perisstant strong smells coming from a water treatment works – becoming a catalyst for action. The Outcome? Yorkshire Water fitting a £3.5m Odour Control Unit and a £50,000 Community Grants Fund by way of compensating local residents for the odour problems – S&S
Ray Duffill of Hedon Blog and hu12.net (by Neil Holmes)
Smells from the local sewage works had been a problem in Hedon for the previous 10 years; but in the summer of 2011 the foul odours emanating from Yorkshire Water’s Hull Waste Water Treatment Works were so strong and penetrating that local residents were feeling physically sick.
While the area was basking in glorious summer sun and heat, the stink meant that people had to abandon their gardens and close their windows. Washing hung out to dry seemed to absorb the smell. Asthma sufferers complained of discomfort and breathing difficulties. It was clear that something had to be done.
Hosting an online petition
Elizabeth Fish from The Lincolnite gives details of some of the highlights from the now-two-year-old publication which has, among other things, exposed financial irregularities at a local academy, covered local elections as they happen and managed to get an extortionate parking ticket rescinded for one lucky reader – S&S
Daniel Ionescu, Elizabeth Fish & Chris Brandrick of The Lincolnite
At The Lincolnite
, I like to think we deliver more than just a typical news service to the small city of Lincoln. The website itself is only two years old, but in those short years, I feel we’ve built up quite a strong rapport with the local community.
This is not just because we go out of our way to help them with enquires (“Who do I speak to about X?” is a common phone call!) but also how quickly we break news, or present it. It’s hard to pick one example, so here are three great ones.
Exposing a financial scandal
Ed tells the tale of how he and the BlogPreston team led the local media in live election coverage in 2010, continued build on those improvements and use of technology at the next election and how the traditional media is slowly starting to catchup – S&S
Ed Walker from blogpreston.co.uk
One area we’ve always been passionate about on Blog Preston is covering the local council and particularly local elections. Back in 2010 we decided to go all guns blazing on the general election count in Preston Town Hall and report it live via the site.
The response was phenomenal, we had hundreds of local people logging onto the live blog to comment and get the results direct from our team at the Guild Hall – who were snapping photos, grabbing audio with candidates and snippets of video to create a compelling multimedia tale of the election results. Often beating the local media, who didn’t run live online coverage, to the punch.
Enhancing coverage in 2011
The actions of Eastleigh News, a Hyperlocal in Southampton, changed the lives of a young family for the better. Forced to live in a car for over a week, they were rapidly re-housed following the Eastleigh News expose – S&S
Steve Slominski from eastleighnews.org.uk
Early one evening last March, I received a telephone tip-off which left me feeling genuinely ‘gob-smacked’.
There was a homeless family living in car in Eastleigh Council’s car park!
A single mum, herself a former council employee – along with her teenage daughter and pet dog – had been living in a small coupe parked directly in full view of the council offices for a week during freezing temperatures.
Ahead of the media pack
Our local Newsquest Daily the ‘Daily Echo’ maintains a sub office in Eastleigh but it is not normally manned in the evenings or weekends – the journalists employed there don’t actually live in Eastleigh either so I knew I was ahead of the pack, indeed the reason I got the call was because my contact believed I was best placed to get on the case straight away.
Dave’s quick reactions while standing on a station led to a photo that ended up on the front page of the local paper – S&S
Dave Harte, editor of bournvillevillage.com
I’ve always been a big fan of not letting your commitment to blogging about your local area get in the way of living your life. I think we should be careful not to overplay ‘doing hyperlocal’ as some kind of time-consuming, heroic activity. Certainly, the story I’ve had most impact with came from simply keeping my eyes open as I went about my daily business.
Like many of you I have lots of reasons to walk around the streets of my local area. It might be taking the kids to the park or to swimming, or walking to the train station to get to work. So it was whilst waiting for a delayed train at Bournville station that a story came, quite literally, slowly into view.
Having heard Steph and James share this story at #TAL12, we felt it contained everything that HypeYourLocal is about – demonstrating the sheer power that hyperlocals can have in gathering a community to make a strong and positive difference to someone’s life – S&S
James Clarke and Steph Jennings
In October 2011, a Mother and her three daughters lost everything in a house fire in Wednesfield, Wolverhampton. Vital medical equipment was lost in the fire which completely gutted the family’s house.
We decided to launch an appeal on our hyperlocal website WV11.co.uk to try and help the family.
How we became involved…
On the 25th October 2011 we received a report of a house fire a couple of miles away from our house. We posted the info on WV11.co.uk and on our Facebook page, as this is usually where local people turn when something out of the ordinary is happening. Within minutes, comments were pouring in from concerned locals and a few hours later we spotted a comment from the lady who owned the house thanking people for their concern and letting everyone know that her kids were OK.
Howdie all and welcome to HypeYourLocal! – The idea for this came about in the lead up to #TAL12 in Birmingham in the weekend just gone. Inspired by the event, we registered the domain today and put this site up.
What’s it about? – Each of us doing Hyperlocal sites are, rightfully, focused on our own local areas. We thought a session at #TAL12 where those running independent hyperlocals highlighted stories that they’ve covered – ones that they were proud of and that helped the community – would give two benefits: A reminder to contributors of great work they’d done (often easy to forget) and generally encourage the hyperlocal scene.
By hyperlocals hearing the stories, we hope this will also inspire other hyperlocals to continue what they’re doing and perhaps give them ideas of directions they could take their own publications.
The session went well, but like all sessions, ran out of time. We’ve put this site together, so everyone can have a go sharing their success – so come along, tell your story and inspire us all!