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Weekly saved from closure after deal with nuclear engineering chief

An engineer operating in the nuclear industry has saved his local newspaper from closure – and 22 jobs in the process – after being officially unveiled as its new owner.

The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald has announced businessman Andy Barr has taken over the company following a period of administration.

Mr Barr runs Barrnon, a “boutique engineering services provider” which works in industries including marine and agricultural, nuclear decommissioning and oil and gas.

He is based in the Eden district of Cumbria, which is covered by the Penrith-based Herald.

Herald staff celebrate the deal with new owner Andy Barr, pictured front in green

Herald staff celebrate the deal with new owner Andy Barr, pictured front in green

The Penrith-based Herald went into voluntary administration a fortnight ago after 160 years of publication, with six members of staff made redundant as a result, although the paper has continued to publish as normal during the process.

A statement on the Herald’s website, published today, reads: “Eden businessman Andy Barr is the new owner of the Cumberland & Westmorland Herald, after he stepped in to save the historic newspaper, which had gone into administration.

“Mr Barr, an engineer whose company, Barrnon, operates successfully within the nuclear industry, said his decision to buy was driven by ’emotion’ and a desire to protect the heritage of the place in which he grew up.

“Staff, who have faced an uncertain future since administrators KPMG were called in, greeted the news with delight.”

Mr Barr has incorporated Barrnon Media Ltd to run the business.

He said: “The Cumberland & Westmorland Herald has always been a firm fixture in my own life, being both a local and a keen reader myself.

“It’s this emotional connection to the paper and community, combined with the Herald’s rich heritage as well as the support of many locals, that has motivated me to step-in and save this business.

“I’m thrilled that we’ve been able to achieve such a successful outcome, it means a great deal to us all.”

Howard Smith, associate partner at KPMG and joint administrator, added: “The sale of this much-loved East Cumbrian paper to newly-incorporated Barrnon Media Limited marks a great outcome, preserving not only 22 jobs but also the paper’s 160-year history.

“A significant level of interest was received, testament to the strong affection for the Herald.

“Widely considered to be the cornerstone of the local communities it serves, it’s a real delight to see its future secured.”

The announcement of the deal comes 24 hours after Newsquest pulled the planned launch of a title which was set to rival the Herald, called the Cumberland & Westmorland Gazette.

The regional publisher had unveiled the new paper on Wednesday morning, and its first edition was due to have been published today.

6 comments

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  • February 21, 2020 at 2:13 pm
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    Hero!!!! Take that, NQ! Wish there were more like him out there.

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  • February 21, 2020 at 3:19 pm
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    Let’s hope his investment pays off and doesn’t bomb……

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  • February 21, 2020 at 3:37 pm
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    When people talk about holding on to their local newspapers they don’t mean money being poured into the coffers of Big News.

    They mean the small weeklies they grew up with, run by people who (and this is important) cared about the local community not just wanted to make a fast buck.

    These are what people want saving. The fact that the titles have been around for years doesn’t mean a thing if they are owned and run by conglomerates…. who aren’t even very good at their core business.

    Now, Mr Barr must find a way to make it pay.

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  • February 24, 2020 at 10:14 am
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    The once big weeklies, owned by the larger conglomerates ,have become the new small weeklies through the changed ways people consume their news but mainly by poor management being slow to respond to the changes and cutting corners believing people would always buy and advertise in their papers.
    Newspaper titles and brands mean nothing if those behind them put profit and revenue before providing high quality local news which is what’s happened all over particularly when allowing the established weeklies to fall behind in the chase to monetise online local news

    Ironically the small independent publishers, once ignored as being a flash in the pan and unlikely to survive, have taken over the local markets and are thriving, these are the true providers of unique local news and the ones who need supporting.

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  • February 24, 2020 at 12:27 pm
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    Hopefully, great news. Worked there for many years and was dreading what NQ would have done to it. Fingers crossed for a great future guys.

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  • February 25, 2020 at 5:13 pm
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    I hope he puts a lot more into the company than he did in their champagne glasses!

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