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Publisher revives weekly series and expands onto rival’s former patch

A series of free weekly newspapers which suspended publication last year due to the 2nd national lockdown has returned with a new edition covering a rival’s former patch.

The Midland News Association has announced the launch of the Royal Sutton Coldfield Chronicle as part of its Chronicle Week series of free papers, which have hit the streets again for the first time since November.

The launch of the new title comes after Reach plc closed the Royal Sutton Coldfield Observer in August last year.

Among those involved with the launch of the Chronicle is Gary Phelps, who was editor-in-chief of six of Reach forerunner Trinity Mirror’s West Midlands titles, including the Observer, before stepping down in 2018 as part of a series of cuts by the publisher.


Gary will write a weekly column for the Chronicle and is joined by former Observer sports editor Matt Panter, who will work as a reporter.

Matt said: “There are some fantastic organisations and charities in Sutton Coldfield – it’s great to be reporting on them again.

“Lots of people in the town were devastated when the Observer closed, and so the response we had last week after the launch was just fantastic.

“We’ve had a lot of positive comments and the MNA has been praised for making such a positive move in the current climate. A local paper was really needed in Sutton Coldfield, which may be part of Birmingham but still has its own identity and a separate town council.

“After the last year we all know how important it is for people to be kept up to date on their local news, and I’m excited to be bringing that back to Sutton Coldfield.”

The Sutton Coldfield edition will be distributed to more than 24,000 homes across the area.

Last year Chronicle Week, dubbed “the UK’s biggest free weekly newspaper”, had publication suspended by the MNA due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Editor-in-chief Martin Wright said: “Royal Sutton Coldfield is a jewel in Birmingham’s crown and we are thrilled to be bringing local news back to this vibrant town.

“Our reporters have already been contacted by various groups and businesses across Sutton Coldfield,

that are keen to feature in this fantastic new paper and let us know everything that is going on. Every week this we will be covering important issues, and will get to the heart of the stories that matter most to our readers.”