Newsquest weekly broadsheet the Ilkley Gazette and its sister title, the Wharfedale & Airedale Observer, have merged into a single tabloid paper.
The shift comes little over a month after Newsquest appointed a new editor to run the two papers and against a backdrop of rapidly declining sales of the two papers and the merger of local newsgathering teams.
Malcolm Hoddywas appointed editor of the two papers last month in an addition to his editorship of the Keighley News, replacing Sheena Stavert, who was appointed local multimedia content manager by parent group, Newsquest.
The first edition of the new tabloid Gazette & Observer hits newsstands on Thursday as a new website is also launched for the newly-merged titles.
Hoddy penned an article in the first edition of the new paper telling readers about the changes which had taken place.
He wrote: “It is always a challenge introducing change, but I truly believe that we have produced is an exciting local newspaper and website fit for the future.
“We already know that many people will find it easier to handle and looking inside, there’s a more comprehensive news service from Ilkley, Wharfedale and Aireborough.
“Along with more news there’s more sport, better coverage of entertainment and the arts, plus all of the regular content and featuresâ€¦
“All in all, our award-winning designers have put together a really classy, quality product which will appeal to new readers while maintaining and improving all that’s great about the former titles the Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale and Airedale Observer.
“That said, nothing is set in a tablet of stone.”
According to the most recent figures from the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the Ilkley Gazette – incorporating the Ilkley Free Press – had an average weekly circulation of 4,903 during the first half of last year, a year-on-year drop of 10.5 per cent.
During the same period, the Wharfedale & Airedale Observer had a weekly circulation of 4,021 – a year-on-year drop of 14.3 per cent.
Newsquest Bradford announced in November that it intended to merge editorial teams of the Keighley News, Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer and the Bradford Telegraph & Argus as it reduces the overall number of journalists from 18 to 16.