NEWSPAPERS across the UK are celebrating Local Newspaper Week this week and the importance of trusted local journalism.

With the rapid development of technology, particularly online, the local news industry is in a state of constant change putting pressure on newsrooms to adapt, often amid persistent financial challenges.

Here at the Daily Echo, we nevertheless strive to bring our readers all the latest news, reliably sourced, and to scrutinise facts, figures and comments to help ensure the public is not being misled or ripped off.

For the past two years we have sought to bring to light the facts and a wide variety of opinions on several major public sector changes, which will have an impact on every Dorset resident.

These include NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group’s Clinical Services Review, which will see Poole Hospital’s A&E and maternity services transferred to the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and a number of community hospitals closed.

The NHS says the changes are necessary to save money but will also improve services, while critics claim they could cost lives in emergency situations.

Cost-savings and maintaining service provision are also the chief cause of plans to abolish the county’s nine councils and replace them with two unitaries – plans which have Government backing. Here critics claim the transformation of local government will lead to a loss of accountability and representation.

In an environment where public sector organisations increasingly seek to wall themselves off from public scrutiny – hiding politicians behind press departments, publishing their own ‘news’ pamphlets and holding discussions in private ‘working parties’ or confidential session – the need for the press to keep up the pressure for transparency is greater than ever.

The Echo continues to challenge Bournemouth council on its plan to borrow millions of pounds of taxpayers money for its BIC hotel investment project, which industry figures claim will put firms out of business, while also being a white elephant.

We put pressure on Poole council to reveal the causes behind the long delays to the work on Poole Bridge, and the logic behind its scheduling of roadworks.

In all these cases the Echo presents the concerns of residents and taxpayers to public bodies, giving them the opportunity to respond and face the judgement of the people.

Back in February Prime Minister Theresa May spoke out in defence of the free press as one of the “foundations on which our democracy is built”.

Plans to begin a second wave of the Leveson Inquiry were rejected in Parliament earlier this month, along with a proposal to force newspapers to sign up to a state-backed press regulator.

The vote has been celebrated as a rare victory for freedom of expression.