A free newspaper has launched three new editions this week after a rival series of titles announced a large cover price rise.
The three new editions of the Guardian will cover Didcot, Wantage and Grove and Abingdon – previously part of the area covered by the South Oxfordshire Guardian, which will continue to be published.
Taylor Newspapers moved its headquarters from Abingdon to Didcot in March as part of its local TV partnership with That’s Oxford TV and the launch of the new editions is also related to its office move.
Howard Taylor, owner and managing director, said: “Since we moved to Didcot, we have found that it is really being considered the hub of South Oxfordshire and the surrounding towns are looking to us to provide them with their own editions so they feel that it is now their paper.
“This is good news for us and good news for the company. We are on a big recruitment drive to try to source more people. We are trying to recruit more sales staff.
“We need to bring our sales force up to a greater level then more journalists may well follow after that.
“We had planned to do this already but brought it forward because we thought that now is a suitable time to do it.”
The new editions will initially have changed front, back and page three stories and the title is increasing its pick-up points and print run.
The Herald announced its price increase to readers last week but said it would be accompanied by changes to make it “bigger, brighter and easier to read”.
Group editor Simon O’Neill told readers that the paper had undergone a redesign and would have more news, sport and features, while more reporters had been assigned to cover the patch.
He wrote: “We have made the paper easier to navigate, launched a new leisure section, a local history feature and — over coming weeks — columnists from all the towns across south Oxfordshire will be writing about local life from their point of view.
“There will also be more competitions and offers, starting with the chance to win a share of £1,000 cash each week during July.
“If we could do all that and hold the price of the paper as it is, we would. But the financial structure of our industry has changed irrevocably and the overwhelming priority is to ensure your local newspaper survives and thrives, for this and future generations.
“It’s a big leap, I accept, but the Herald will still cost no more than a bar of chocolate and it will be a whole lot better for you.
“I believe that 70p is a reasonable price to pay to secure and strengthen the local news service in your area for the long term.”
The Herald’s sister regional daily, the Oxford Mail, also brought in a price increase this week, from 45p to 65p, as part of a relaunch which also saw increased pagination.
As reported yesterday, Newsquest also axed its Oxford free paper the Oxford Star ahead of the Mail’s relaunch.