The Lincolnite evicted from offices after failure to pay rent

Sparkhouse on Rope Walk, Lincoln, former offices of The Lincolnite
-Credit: (Image: Google)

A Lincoln-based independent news publisher has been evicted from its offices on the university campus after failing to pay rent - but its founder says they are moving as part of a "strategic relocation". The Lincolnite, owned by Stonebow Media, has been publishing since 2010 from offices in the Sparkhouse building on the University of Lincoln's Brayford campus.

Sparkhouse was established by the university in 2003 with the aim of providing startup businesses with the facilities and support they need to launch and grow. The Lincolnite has been a tenant at Sparkhouse and received support from the university for 14 years.

However, due to an accrual of rent arrears, understood to be dating back many months, the university has changed the locks on the office doors and removed The Lincolnite's access to the building. A spokesperson for the University of Lincoln said: "The University of Lincoln has asserted its rights as the landlord and freehold owner of Sparkhouse. The University considers the matter to be one of a commercial nature and does not intend to comment further."

According to Stonebow Media's latest balance sheet on Companies House as of August 31, 2023, the company owes creditors £174,574 which is almost quadruple what it owed the previous year. The Lincolnite currently holds the contract for the county's BBC Local Democracy Reporter scheme, which sees two dedicated reporters cover news about local authorities and other public service organisations. The content can be used by all local media partners, including Lincolnshire Live and the Lincolnshire Echo.

Founder and editor of The Lincolnite, Daniel Ionescu, launched the MyLocal Lincolnshire website and app in May 2023 with an aim to publish and monetise local content. The idea was that sources like the police, councils or fire service could post their announcements and press releases directly on the MyLocal platform without journalists having to write the story themselves.

The company previously asked people to pay for a subscription to view particular stories, but this no longer appears to be the case. Mr Ionescu said he was unable to comment on ongoing legal matters with the university, but revealed that The Lincolnite is moving to new premises in the city as part of "ambitious expansion plans", which include launching some operations in London.

Speaking about The Lincolnite's last 14 years at the Sparkhouse, Mr Ionescu said: "During this time, we have had the privilege of working alongside incredible individuals such as Vicky Addison, Charlotte Baxter, and Sarah Simpson, who have been instrumental in our growth and development. We are very grateful for their support and contributions, which have helped shape our journey.

"Being part of a centre that nurtures and retains talent from the university has been a cornerstone of our success, as alumni of the University of Lincoln. We are also proud to honour the legacy of Sparkhouse's founder, Andrew Stevenson, at our annual Business Excellence Awards, which take place on July 12.

"These awards reflect our commitment to excellence and innovation, celebrating the achievements within our community and the ongoing impact of Andrew Stevenson's vision for ambitious entrepreneurship in Greater Lincolnshire."

Katrina Burrill, director of Stonebow Media and MyLocal, said: "Looking forward, we are incredibly excited about the expansion plans for Stonebow Media and MyLocal. These developments will not only enhance our digital capabilities, but also to create opportunities for innovation and community engagement for the growing independent publishing sector."