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Roger Alton steps down as Independent editor

Roger Alton has decided to stand down as editor of the Independent with immediate effect.

He has been praised for his "remarkable" effort to keep the title going.

His exit comes two weeks after the sale of the Independent and Independent on Sunday to Alexander Lebedev was completed.

In the months leading up to the sale there had been widespread media speculation about a possible successor to Alton as editor which appeared to stem from sources in the Lebedev camp.

In a statement published on the Independent website, Alton says: "I think it's right, following the sale of the paper to Alexander and Evgeny Lebedev, that the new owners should be free to appoint an editor of their own choosing.

"The two-year period in which I have been editor of the Independent has been easily the most exhilarating and exciting time of my career, and every day has been a chance to learn from a truly remarkable collection of colleagues and workmates, the most talented, dedicated and likeable of any group I have worked with.

"I wish them all the very best for the future, and I am sure that, under the ownership of the Lebedevs, the paper will go from strength to strength."

Managing director Simon Kelner is to take over day to day running of the paper in his dual role as editor-in-chief.

Editor of the Independent on Sunday John Mullin is to take some of the responsibility for the daily. He will also be responsible for "driving greater integration between the daily and Sunday titles", the company revealed today.

Kelner is quoted on the Independent website saying: "Roger has edited the Independent throughout one of the most difficult periods in its history and has done so with elan, dedication, skill and his customary energy.

"His acheivement in producing such a terrific newspaper, and in keeping the staff motivated and happy, while being buffeted by the harshest of economic winds is nothing short of remarkable.

"That the Independent lives to fight another day is due in no small part to Roger's determination to keep the wheels turning. Every member of staff owes him a debt of gratitude, and I am sure I speak for us all in wishing him well for the future."

Dan Gledhill and Adam Leigh are to be joint deputy editors of the Independent.

Alton, 62, joined the Independent as editor five months after he finished a ten-year stint as editor of The Observer.

He led a redesign of the paper which took effect in September 2008. During Alton's time in charge, sales have steeply dropped as the Independent's financial troubles led to a fall-off in marketing spending and a cover price increase to £1, the first of the mainstream quality dailies to put its price so high.

Dominic Ponsford writes for Press Gazette.

Dominic Ponsford is editor of Press Gazette

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.