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Circulation boost ousts freebies

The Belper News has seen the end of an era, with the Derbyshire weekly no longer giving away free copies.

Some villages had received complimentary copies of the paper since the early 1970s and the cover price of 22p elsewhere has remained static since 1992.

But the News has decided to withdraw the remaining free copies, which were being sent only at Allestree, because of the paper’s recent successes in circulation growth.

Editor Adrian Farmer told readers: “The issue with free papers often upset regular readers who wondered why just one village got the paper free.

“This policy had been in place for many years predating the present owners and was in great need of re-evaluation, which has now been done.

“The free papers were an attempt to increase the number of readers, but with a 15 per cent increase in readers during 2001, the News is showing it can thrive without free papers in Allestree.”

The Belper News was launched in June 1896 but sold to the Derbyshire Liberal Press Company within five years. Wilfred Edmunds Ltd, owners of the Derbyshire Times, bought the Belper News in 1907, and held the paper until 1975.

The company wanted to close the paper but it was saved by a buy-out from three Belper businessmen. The title was later sold back to the Derbyshire Times Group, by this time part of Johnston Press PLC, in 1989.

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