Northcliffe has today launched a new edition of the Brentwood Gazette in neighbouring Romford - where it will go head-to-head with regional publishing rival Archant.
Free weekly the Romford Gazette is likely to hit sales of Archant's flagship 70p weekly the Romford Recorder.
The first edition of the paper leads with a rapist jailed for an offence committed 20 years ago and an interview with Romford-born TV presenter Richard Madeley.
The new edition will be overseen by Nev Wilson, the editor of the Brentwood Gazette, which won paid-for newspaper of the year at the 2010 EDF Energy East of England Media Awards and has been shortlisted for paid-for weekly paper of the year at the Regional Press Awards 2012.
Wilson told Press Gazette that on a visit to the Essex town the response from locals had been 'very positive", adding that the launch 'seemed like a natural thing to do".
Editorial director of Northcliffe South East, Alan Geere, said: 'Demand from readers and advertisers in the Romford area wanting a piece of the action with the award-winning Brentwood Gazette has been so high that launching a new edition was the obvious way to go.
'It will be freely available in supermarkets and at railway stations from Wednesday mornings and already feedback from the community has been very positive.
'There is a clearly a need for an honest, straightforward, campaigning newspaper that truly reflects its community."
The most recent ABC figures for the Romford Recorder show circulation fell 11.2 per cent in the last months of 2011 to 21,448, while the Brentwood Gazette was down 8.9 per cent to 11,480.
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