A local democracy reporter went on an 800-mile round trip to track down a Cambridge councillor who moved to live in Fife, Scotland, despite still holding two public roles in the city.
Josh Thomas made the seven-hour journey to Cupar in Fife on Thursday last week to speak with Councillor Donald Adey, who sits on Cambridge City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council.
Thomas said the paper had been writing about Adey since he made the decision to move to Scotland last year, but he had never responded to requests for comment by phone or email.
He said he didn’t know if Adey was going to be in when he knocked on his door, saying it was “a bit of a roll of a dice”, but luckily for the reporter the councillor was not only there but invited him in for an interview.
“He was flabbergasted, he couldn’t believe it,” said Thomas of Adey’s reaction when he turned up unannounced. The councillor claimed his contact details on the council website were incorrect.
The return trip cost the reporter £150 (super off-peak).
Adey claimed to make the journey down south by train a few times a month and to work “solidly” when he does. But, his council colleagues have repeatedly referenced his absence from meetings and claim their own workload has increased as a result of his move.
Thomas, who became an LDR based at the Reach-owned Cambridge News in April last year after two years as the newspaper’s politics reporter.
He said he was encouraged to make the journey to Fife himself, rather than use an LDR who was situated closer to Adey’s home, by Reach local democracy editor Yakub Qureshi.
Thomas told Press Gazette: “I really think it was probably a very expensive and time consuming way of getting a story – 800 miles is ridiculous isn’t it, we can’t do that every time we need to speak to him.
“But in terms of making a point, this is the lengths that we’ll go to. I’m tremendously grateful that they [the editors] did spring for it and I think in terms of sending a message of the lengths that they would go to it’s quite a powerful message.
“There’s no ignoring the paper and the people of Cambridge. We’ll come to you, we’ll come and get you. I don’t think it’s something I’ll be able to do all the time, just once in a while.”
His story made the front page of Cambridge News on Monday and was splashed across three pages inside.
Picture: Reach/Josh Thomas