Patel: will edit Kent on Sunday
Insiders say the Kent Messenger Group is dusting off plans for a Sunday newspaper to take on Kent on Sunday, an independent newspaper due to launch on 8 September.
KMG financial director Jim Smithers was wary of releasing any information which might give away plans to the opposition, but confirmed that the group had been discussing a Sunday paper for a long time during its planning meetings.
"We review it each year and I know that Simon Irwin [associate director, editorial] has had plans which we have shelved, waiting for a more appropriate time," said Smithers. "Clearly, we are still working on it and reserve our options."
KMG chief executive David Lewis and chairman Edwin Boorman are currently on holiday. Lewis does not return until 9 September and it would be crucial to get the approval of both for a launch – although sources say that Lewis is in contact and could give the go-ahead for an early start.
Kent on Sunday, owned by Kos Media and based at Chartham in Kent, is the brainchild of Paul Stannard, a former Adscene, Kent Regional Newspapers and Trinity Mirror Southern executive.
His editorial director, Ian Patel, also ex-TMS, will edit the free newspaper. So far he has recruited two sub-editors and one staff reporter, Charlotte Wilson, but intends recruiting more. He has two former Adscene (later TMS) group editorial directors – Neil Clements and Jim Grove – working for him on a freelance basis.
Clements and Grove are arranging stringers to cover the whole of the county, and will report and write features and columns.
Patel said he was in negotiation with high-profile sports columnists and Kos Media’s development director, former Kent and England fast bowler Dean Headley, will write for the paper.
Sports coverage will be issue and feature-led. Patel does not intend to compete with the detailed match reporting of other groups in the county.
Patel, who headed a group of TMS titles at Hounslow, said of his new job: "I am extremely excited. It is a fantastic change for me. I had a very good job at Trinity and I was very happy there. But this is something very different.
"One of the things I missed at my last job was hands-on editing. I was very much involved in management. But the chance to edit a paper like this was too good an opportunity to pass up. It’s an editorially led product. The designs are fantastic. It’s a super opportunity to get in on the ground floor.
"I knew lots of the people involved in it already – old friends and colleagues – and it was a chance to start something that will grow."
By Jean Morgan