The South London Press, part of Tindle Newspapers, is this week unveiling four new titles in the capital – the Plumstead Mercury, Woolwich Mercury, Catford Mercury and Abbey Wood & Thamesmead Mercury.
However the announcement comes after staff were told last week told that an SLP reporter responsible for covering two boroughs within the capital would not be replaced.
Asked about the move, the paper’s managing director Karen Sheppard confirmed that a policy of non-replacement was in place throughout the Tindle group in a bid to avoid compulsory redundancies.
She told HTFP: “At the moment we’re doing our best to launch our way out of this recession and it’s a tough one for all of us.
“We’re doing our best to ensure everybody keeps their job. When they leave, we won’t replace.”
HTFP asked Karen if the group planned to change this policy in light of the new launches, to which she responded: “No, not at this stage. They’re being dealt with in house.”
Asked if the non-replacement policy was in place across Tindle Newspapers, she replied: “It is at the moment with the recession the way that it is.”
HTFP understands that two of the three reporters at the SLP have quit the paper since the start of the year without being replaced.
The most recent departure, Jack Griffith, covered the boroughs of Lambeth and Southwark, home to 600,000 people and regarded as part of the paper’s core patch.
It leaves the sole remaining staff reporter, Kate Gould, to cover the SLP’s entire patch of Lewisham, Southwark, Lambeth and Wandsworth by herself, aided only by freelances.
Sister title the Greenwich Mercury, based in the same Streatham office as the SLP, also has only one reporter.
One former SLP staffer said: “Everyone at SLP has worked tremendously hard to keep the paper going in recent years, enduring a swathe of voluntary redundancies three years ago, and a subsequent launch of seven new hyperlocal editions that placed a tremendous strain on the staff’s workload.
“Ironically, in its 150th anniversary year, there are now serious doubts about how much longer the South London Press can carry on. This once proud name in local journalism is being cut to shreds.”
Tindle Newspapers now runs a total of 38 titles in Greater London, with eight having been launched since November.
Hannah Walker, editor in chief of the South London Press and Mercury series, will take on responsibility for the new newspapers
She said: “The areas we are launching into have needed their very own local papers for some time and we are delighted to fill the gap.”