The first informal issue of the Cambourne Crier was photocopied, stapled and distributed by community development at South Cambs District Council for the Christmas issue 1999, and followed by a few more issues at 3 month intervals.
There were no more than a few homes at this time. A small grant to cover 6 months of funding (£400) was awarded by the District Council to a group of residents who voluntarily produced the start of the more formal Cambourne Crier (and ultimately the magazine we have now), which grew after that short time into a self funding organisation known as Cambourne.net. They also had a website, and relieved South Cambs of the responsibilty of staff time, and cost of the photocopying.
Not many adverts were required to cover initial costs, as only 8 pages or so were printed each month. In the 13 years since, the magazine has seen significant growth in size and numbers distributed (now up to 40 pages and 3600 copies). The printing was initially contracted to a company in Bar Hill.
The Crier has never failed to appear in all those years, but the odd hiccup has caused delays now and then. Notably when the Bar Hill company managed to mix up the CD’s and printed the previous month’s issue again, and more recently when a catalogue of problems conspired to make this year’s April issue a week late.
This production has required significant amounts of advertising to cover costs, during the first 7 or 8 years before costs escalated a reserve fund was established and community donations were provided. Community donations continue to take place to this day even though printing costs have increased(now approx 80p per copy or approx £3000 per month with distribution costs on top). The Crier team remain committed to donating money to local groups and organistaions as long as we draw breath. A small financial contribution is also paid by the printer to the editors, which is used to supplement the fund that the Crier uses to donate to community groups. We are proud of the fact that since January 2007 we have donated well over £25000 to local groups and causes.
The editors are still volunteers, but for many years one resident did the editorial work largely on his own, he sometimes worked all night to finish it and proved hard to replace when his job took him away from Cambourne, It now requires a team of volunteers!. Today’s Crier team consists of 11 editors, 1 chairman, 1 lead editor, 1 treasurer and 8 delivery staff. Working all night is still necessary now and then!
At one point a resident purchased printing and collating machines and did the work for 2 years to try and keep the costs under control, but as the numbers grew it became unviable due to space and time restrictions and even registering a company to claim back the VAT for the cost of the machines meant it was not cost effective and required the machines to never become faulty!. The work became too much for residents, when he was planning his retirement, and it proved impossible to attract another committed volunteer once they realised how much work was involved.
Nowadays a commercial operator prints the magazine and more recently also handles the adverts aspect. One of the editors works as lead editor and also oversees the distribution element, employing a team of 9 delivery staff.
The Cambridge Evening News asked to meet the team a few years ago and discuss a joint venture where they offered to produce the magazine and use the editorial input from residents, when we looked at the Histon News which was born under a similar arrangement, we found it somewhat lacking in content and not at all acceptable. They have also tried to start their own weekly paper on more than one occasion (they were unable to use the name ‘Crier’ as in other places). They never seem to last long, and will certainly not be donating funds to local groups.
We are sure ‘the News’ has found the Crier very helpful when producing their own pages. The Crier editors hold firm to the belief that we remain the premier newsletter for Cambourne, and offer the only cost effective avenue for local tradesmen to advertise in, as well as being in the unique position of being able to plough funds back into the community that all the editors live in.
Advert prices have increased but the number of adverts has also reduced. We have also now reached a state where we can offer colour advertising and editorial. One of our long term goals is to make the magazine 100% colour. With another 800 homes to supply over the next few years, advert prices will remain good value compared with other publications.
We still rely heavily on a few voluntary editors who give much of their time to ensure one of the most sucesfull additions to life in Cambourne is maintained. If you would like to give some free time and get involved, please contact us.