A weekly newspaper threatened with closure for the past three months appears to have been rescued by a local housing association.
However reports circulating in the North West suggest it has now been bought by the New Charter Trust, a housing association based in Greater Manchester.
Neither New Charter nor the newspaper have thus far been prepared to comment on the reports, which surfaced on the website of the Northern Voices magazine.
The magazine, run by a workers’ co-operative based in the North-West, published a blog post earlier this week in which it claimed that the Trust had now purchased the title.
It also questioned whether the Trust, which it said had close links with Tameside Council, would maintain the newspaper’s editorial independence.
Said the post: “Why a housing company with no previous experience of running a newspaper and with very, very, close links to Tameside Council, would want to buy a local newspaper, is to say the least, highly suspect.
“But because of its corporate influence and close links with council, one might also question whether New Charter, is an appropriate and suitable organization, to run a local newspaper.”
When contacted by HTFP about the reports, New Charter said it could not comment.
The newspaper’s managing director Chris Wright has yet to respond to requests for a comment on its future.
The newspaper, previously known as the Ashton-under-Lyne Reporter, was where the legendary former Sunday Times editor Sir Harold Evans began his career in journalism in the 1940s.
At that time it was owned by the Hobson family and at one point sold around 100,000 copies a week in the area around East Manchester.
Staff were summoned to a meeting earlier this summer to be told the paper may cease trading and that their positions would become redundant as a result.
Around seven editorial jobs were at risk, including those of editor Nigel Skinner, deputy editor Chris Maxwell, four reporters and one photographer.