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As of today we have changed our name from Gillingham News to Gillingham & Shaftesbury News. Why the addition of Shaftesbury? For us it seems a logical – and final – step.

Traditionally Gillingham and Shaftesbury have enjoyed some friendly rivalry, but more importantly, they also share a long history and common interests stretching back centuries. Each town has ancient links with key kings in English history: the mighty Alfred the Great in Shaftesbury and in Gillingham, King John who, albeit reluctantly, gave us Magna Carta.

In modern times, the towns’ destinies are more closely intertwined than ever. The railway station in Gillingham is also Shaftesbury’s closest  station, and recently the already regular bus service between the two towns became half-hourly reflecting the traffic between the two.

The high-profile and hugely popular Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show takes place, symbolically, on a site midway between the towns, while numerous organisations and voluntary groups work across both towns and many people live in one and work in the other. Moreover, the recent successful bid to save inpatient beds at the Westminster Memorial Hospital involved councillors and members of the public from Gillingham, Shaftesbury and Mere, in a campaign that underlined that there is far more that unites these communities than divides them.

All three are on county borders and therefore are not always at the forefront of the minds of decision-makers who live and operate many miles away. So it was heartening to see from the hospital campaign how much these communities can achieve when they work together.

For all these reasons we feel it makes sense for our newspaper to cover Gillingham, Shaftesbury and Mere.

But we want to make clear that the addition of Shaftesbury will not come at the expense of our existing coverage and nor do we intend to extend the newspaper’s area any further. You, our readers, constantly tell us how much you enjoy our genuinely local news coverage and we want it to stay that way.

For us, Gillingham, Shaftesbury and Mere make a perfect fit.

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