THE campaigning work of the Daily Echo in trying to improve the community it serves had been praised by the city’s MPs.

In a week where the work of local newspapers is being championed, Southampton MPs Alan Whitehead and John Denham said there were many examples of how the work of newspapers like the Daily Echo had helped to bring about change.

An example is our campaign highlighting the underhand practices of some rogue clampers, who were extorting money from motorists in the city.

We tracked down those behind the practice and ran a series of articles. The cause was then taken up by the MPs and Mr Denham used his position at the time within the Cabinet to call for action. As a result the then Home Secretary Jacqui Smith introduced new regulations on the controversial industry.

Mr Denham said: “It is the job of local newspapers to hold local government, politicians and, in this case, companies, to account. It is really good when newspapers can work with people like me to get something done about it.”

Mr Whitehead said it was examples like the clampers campaign which showed the importance of local newspapers. He said: “It was a really good example of how local newspapers play an essential role in shining a spotlight on issues.

“The Echo gave it the space and column inches it deserved and brought the matter to the fore.

Mr Whitehead added: “Local newspapers are a good indicator of what is affecting the community or how the public feels about something.

By reading what a local newspaper is reporting and what people are saying about it you can see instantly what the reaction is to something and how the public feels.”

He said that the recent damage done to the reputation of the national press should not apply to local papers.

“National press could take a leaf out of local newspapers in terms of how they operate, how they source their stories and report on issues that affect their communities.”