The UK Column story began with local residents in Devonport, the historic Royal Navy dockyard area of the city of Plymouth in South West England.
Fighting against corruption within Plymouth City Council, and motivated by the increasing interference in their community by government backed ’Quangos’, as well as the political charity Common Purpose, local people were unable to get their concerns published by the local press.
Research suggested a collaboration between Plymouth City Council, South West of England Regional Development Agency, the Government Office of the South West, Common Purpose and local newspapers. The simple objective appeared to be to hide the truth.
In response a small Devonport group decided to print the truth themselves.
The first edition of the Devonport Column newsletter was published in January 2006. A4 sheet size and with an initial distribution of just 500, the effect of the Column on the streets was amazing. Whilst residents, and the Plymouth public demanded more, local Councillors were bullied to try and shut the paper down, and even the Chief Executive of Plymouth Council used his public office to try and prevent future editions from being printed. Individual members of our team were threatened and some local advertisers intimidated.
The fledgling team worked hard to produce a monthly newsheet, boosted articles to cover a hefty four A4 pages, and increased distribution to 1500 copies per month. All work was voluntary and funded by local donations.
As our readership grew, the Devonport Column was renamed, first to the Plymouth & Devonport Column, and then the UK Column.
From that tiny spark of free speech, demand for the paper rapidly increased, and with the help of a few very generous start-up donations we were able to expand to 20,000 copies per month, rising to 75,000 in December 2007. By the time the newspaper was discontinued in 2015, well over one million copies had been printed and distributed.
Alongside the hard copy papers, website, ebooks, research groups and forums, we have also given hundreds of public talks across UK and overseas and produced thousands of hours of internet video presentations, documentaries and live weekday news programmes.
The UK Column remains the work of a small core group and some fantastic contributors, and we are only able to do what we do due to the generosity of those who donate and join us as members.