Newsquest has announced it has completed the purchase of an independent weekly newspaper despite last-minute concerns raised by a local MP.
The regional publisher says shareholders in the Isle of Wight County Press have voted unanimously in favour of the buyout at an Extraordinary General Meeting.
The board of the Isle of Wight County Press group had previously urged shareholders to agree to the proposed sale, despite opposition both locally and from the National Union of Journalists.
Calls had been made by an island businessman, its MP and the National Union of Journalists for the deal to be delayed to allow an alternative local bid to be presented.
Commenting on the purchase, Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker said: “We’re looking forward to working with the Isle of Wight County Press staff, operating as they do one of the country’s strongest local news brands, and supporting them in building a more sustainable future.
“We want to facilitate a structure whereby they can benefit from the scale and resources that Newsquest can provide whilst enabling them to carry on doing what they do best – namely providing a first class and unrivalled local editorial and advertising platform for the people of the Isle of Wight and its businesses.”
Tory MP Bob Seely, who represents the Isle of Wight in Parliament, had called for the planned purchase to be delayed until an alternative local plan to buy the paper can be presented.
His call for the deal to put on hold echoes those already made by the chair of the island’s development board, company director Norman Arnold, and the National Union of Journalists.
In an open letter to County Press Group chief executive Robin Freeman, Mr Seely wrote: “I am far from convinced that the County Press’s acquisition by Newsquest is in the best interests of the island: both in terms of maintaining high quality journalism and providing a grassroots reporting service covering everything from political issues to village fetes with distinctiveness and a local perspective.
“However, I accept that the local media has to move with the times – and I therefore welcome the commitment from those behind the embryonic plans for the local bid to ensuring the County Press can thrive in what is indeed a ‘changing media landscape.”
Mr Freeman has previously said of Newsquest’s bid: “The board of the IWCP Group strongly believe that this is the best way forward for our group of companies.
“Newsquest are a very well-respected and highly professional group and I very much hope that the next chapter of the CP’s life will be as part of their group.”