The grey warehouse office is becoming a white elephant

TALES of office closures elsewhere prompt me to consider the situation of the Evening Beast.

We long since abandoned our cherished town centre office, from where you could look out onto the market square and take the temperature of the populace (the downside being that said populace could hurl abuse towards the upstairs windows while passing if we had offended them in some way).

The old hot metal press in the basement was flogged off to the Chinese, whose gang of incendiary, inksoaked scrap merchants kept the local fire brigade more than busy while they dismantled it with the aid of fearsome, sparking lances.

Some attempt was made to make the 18th century premises fit for modern use – false floors covering flagstones, computer trunking hacking a brutal path through beautiful plaster cornices – but in the end we had to give up and clear off to an industrial unit on the edge of town, the one consolation being the proximity of the essential services provided by The Shivering Whippet.

The move had the effect of dissuading angry punters from storming the front office, but also lost us that essential, day-to-day contact with the people we were supposed to be serving. And now that grey warehouse is also becoming something of a white elephant.

As our whizzo web press also became economically redundant in the dead eyes of the beancounters, printing was ‘centralised’ 35 miles away and our treasured editions were axed, so the workforce inevitably shrank. As did the office space needed.

What was once the garage is now occupied by a taxi company and a family making curry sauces has moved into paste-up. Like the last toothpaste in the tube, we’ve been slowly squeezed towards the end of the shed.

Now only a modest hatchway replacing our once impressive front office stands between us and the car park. Oh yes, the car park. That has brought problems of its own. Because there are now so few of us in the building, the landlord has quite reasonably decided that we shouldn’t be allowed the same number of car parks spaces as before, i.e. all of them. In future, we can have just eight.

But don’t panic, there is an alternative. We can each pay £800 a year to secure an individual place should we wish. I notice that the Invisible Man, our alleged managing director who lurks largely unseen in some distant outpost of this empire, has his name on a slot. I’ll just park there in future. As long as there isn’t an Invisible Car in the way, I should be OK.

I’M hearing whispers about an attempted management buyout of Northcliffe. The money put on the table? Just £90 million. Might be bollocks, of course, but…

Has one industry ever suffered such a rapid and cataclysmic decline? Back in 1993, in the days of mad multiples, Northcliffe coughed up £93 million to just to buy the Nottingham Evening Post. And was it only five years ago that they walked away from an offer of more than £1 billion from the Gannett group? God only knows what the old Lord R would have made of it all.

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