Wee County News returns to its former Alloa home

THE head office of a Scottish local newspaper is officially opening today – back in its former home of Alloa – after its previous publishers went into liquidation five months ago.

The Clackmannanshire-based Wee County News was one of seven newspapers closed when its then publishers, Forth Independent Newspapers, went out of business. But it has been resurrected following a recent purchase by HUB Media, part of HUB Publishing (Scotland), based in Uddingston and which already has a portfolio of freesheets throughout Scotland, including the Wishaw HUB and the Perthshire HUB.

Of the seven titles closed, four have been bought by HUB: the paid-for Weekly News and three free titles: Strathallan News, Allanwater News and Eastside News. The East Kilbride Mail, Eastwood Today and Avondale Mail were not bought by HUB.

Since the demise of Forth, rival newspaper group, Clyde and Forth, moved in to create three, free titles – the Strathallan Times, Allanwater Herald and Eastside Advertiser – under the editorship of former Wee County editor, Martin Little.

Scott Mochar, partner of HUB Publishing, told allmediascotland: “Competition is what makes business go; if there was no competition, the customers might not get value for money, and competition is healthy.”

“The fact that Clyde and Forth have opened in these areas obviously shows something in it as well, that they see milage in it.”

While its office is officially being opened today, Wee County News has been operating for the last eight weeks.

Said Mochar: “The whole HUB Media operation is going to be run from the new Alloa office. Half the team are going there today, and from Monday morning it will be fully operational.”

He added: “The Wee County is back at its home.”

Earlier this year, under the stewardship of Forth Independent and Little, it was revealed that the Alloa-based Wee County News was one of only four Scottish local newspapers to have enjoyed an increase in its year-on-year sales; its average of 6,045 representing a 3.1 per cent increase between June and December last year.

Mochar declined to say what the sales figures are currently of the resurrected Wee County News. But he did say: “It disappeared, so obviously it’s just getting it back; so, week by week, we’re seeing increased sales and we’re absolutely delighted by that.”

He continued. “It’s 45p – the same price as before – and still a weekly title. But it’s had a facelift. It’s a different [newsprint] because across the whole group we use an improved recycled stock, which is heavier. It’s bright white so, for our advertisers, their adverts look brilliant. The pictures look great on the stock, so we’re really positive about it.”

An editor is still being sought. “I’m looking after it at the moment, but we’re obviously looking to fill that position and hand the reigns over to someone else. We’ll keep our eye out until we find the right candidate,” added Mochar.

The three freesheets bought by HUB previously each had a print run of around 8,200. Plans for when they’ll be restarted are, as yet, undecided, but, says Mochar, “it’ll definitely happen”.