Ham & High owner looks at free Sunday launch

The Hampstead & Highgate Express is likely to have a free sister Sunday in September, if owner Community Media give final approval to plans already put in motion.

The newspaper has started advertising for mobile supervisors, van drivers and distributors for the North London areas of Temple Fortune, Golders Green, Hampstead Garden Suburb, Golders Hill Park, West and South Hampstead, Swiss Cottage, Chalk Farm, Primrose Hill and Kentish Town, "to deliver a new Sunday publication".

But there was no confirmation from CML (Herts & London) regional director Garry Matthews when Press Gazette called this week.

"The only thing I will say is that we are looking at opportunities all the time," said Matthews. "Our papers down there are going from strength to strength. The ABC figures that are coming out are looking good and we are always looking at new opportunities. At the moment there are no plans to launch anything. Anything we do has to go before the board."

Sunday newspapers have suddenly come into vogue with Johnston Press launching a free Sunday in Northamp-tonshire in June and the Stoke-based Sentinel on Sunday, launched last year, picking up three awards in the Press Gazette Regional Newspaper Awards in July.

The CML venture may not be a full-blown newspaper but a property advertising vehicle, sources say. The Ham&High’s rival, Press Gazette Free Newspaper of the Year, the Camden New Journal, has just launched a property supplement.

CNJ editor Eric Gordon claimed: "I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a classic spoiler operation.

"We are not overly concerned. We always welcome competition to keep us on our toes. Our philosophy is that it is strong editorial that wins over readers and our editorial standards are always on the rise.

"If they can’t produce a decent paid-for with the vast resources of the Ham&High, it’s hard to see how they’ll come up with a decent free."

By Jean Morgan

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