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Hyperlocal network moves outside city for first time with 16th title launch

A network of hyperlocal newspapers has moved outside the city of its birth for the first time with the launch of its 16th title.

Former Bristol Post assistant editor Richard Coulter and head of advertising Emma Cooper set up Filtonvoice in the Bristol suburb in 2011 and the pair have since gone on to launch 14 more titles in neighborhoods across the city.

Now the network has expanded further afield with the launch of the monthly Wells Voice, which will go up against Trinity Mirror-owned weekly the Wells Journal.

Richard and Emma have also recruited a former Trinity Mirror journalist to edit the new title, pictured below, in the shape of Andy Vallis.

Andy has previously worked for the Bristol Post, Western Daily Press and Bath Chronicle over the course of a 30-year career in newspapers in the South West region, and has lived in Wells for the past 20 years.

Most recently, he was chief sub-editor and assistant director of content for the Mid Somerset Series, which includes the Wells Journal.

He said: “I started Wells Voice because Wells needs it. It’s a wonderful city with lots going on but it was becoming harder and harder to find out what was happening.

“It’s created a real buzz in the city. Wells was ready for it. Dozens of people have contacted me to say what a wonderful initiative it is, and a video of Wells Town Crier Len Sweales performing a cry of welcome for Wells Voice outside the town hall has been viewed more than 1,000 times.”

Andy was made redundant last Christmas wheh the Journal’s Wells office was closed and the operation relocated to Yeovil.

Added Andy:  “I’m looking forward to telling the story of what goes on here. It will be nice to be my own boss as well. I’ve actually been made redundant three times over the years as a journalist. Now the only person who can make me redundant is me.”

Emma said: “We are so happy to welcome Andy to our team. Since we began in Filton, Bristol in 2011 we have grown to 15 publications across the Bristol area alone, reaching nearly 140,000 households each month.

“We want to show hyperlocal news is sustainable as a business and we would be delighted to discuss other locations with journalists, salespeople or entrepreneurs anywhere in the UK.”

The new paper will be delivered free each month to homes and businesses in Wells and left at convenient collection points.