Two newspapers that were left out of the £44m sale of Guardian Media Group’s regional titles to Trinity Mirror last year are to close with the loss of 19 jobs.
The paid-for Woking News and Mail and its free sister title the Woking Review will publish their last editions next Thursday, 17 March, it was announced today.
All 19 staff at the two titles, including nine journalists, are facing redundancy and a formal consultation process is now under way.
The two titles were the only local newspapers still owned by GMG after it sold the rest of its regional media arm, including MEN Media and Surrey and Berkshire Media, to Trinity last year.
Trinity chose not to have the two titles included in last year’s deal as it already owned a rival publication, the Woking Informer.
Had the two titles been included in the sale, it may have triggered a competition inquiry which in turn could potentially have held up the entire deal.
The two papers are losing £500,000 a year and GMG says it has now exhausted efforts to find an alternative buyer.
News of the closure was carried in the leader column of today’s penultimate edition of the News and Mail.
Editor Colin Parker said: “The News & Mail has been serving the community in Woking since 1894 and has been committed to bringing to residents news that affects them.
“The Woking Review is read by more than 90,000 people across the towns of Woking, Addlestone and Byfleet and has been a permanent weekly fixture for decades.”
“It is a shame these two newspapers, it seems, will be added to the list of local publications across the country that have ceased to exist.
“The papers have been at the forefront of holding to account local authorities, reporting on community events, and following the ups and downs of our town’s football club.”
GMG said in a statement: “When Trinity Mirror purchased GMG’s regional newspaper business in 2010 they did not acquire the Woking News & Mail and Woking Review. These titles are now the only local newspapers within our portfolio.
“Despite our best efforts over the last year to find an alternative buyer, which generated a number of expressions of interest, no viable offers have emerged.
“In light of this, and the Woking papers’ substantial ongoing losses, we have reluctantly made the decision to close the titles. The last edition to be published will be the Woking News & Mail of Thursday 17 March.
“We deeply regret that such a step is necessary, and have only contemplated closure having exhausted all other options.
“Staff have been aware of the situation for some time. The company is in formal consultation with all affected employees and their representatives.
“We would like to thank the staff and management of the Woking titles who have shown great professionalism and patience throughout this difficult process.”
The News and Mail was founded as the Woking News in 1894 while the Review – thought to be one of the UK’s oldest free titles – has been published since the 1930s.
Last month’s ABC figures showed sales of the News and Mail down 16pc year-on-year at 5,760.