Quite a number of years ago a lot of the production staff were moved to Cambridge where the Mercury was printed using the Cambridge Evening News as a base. A few local people were made redundant in the process and many of the journalist staff either left for pastures new or went to Cambridge. I think the Ware Road offices have been running with a bare minimum of staff for some time so no surprises that the building is up for redevelopment.
A few years back the Illiffe Group along with many others was sold to the Local World group headed by the chap who ran Trinity Mirror, who now publish local titles all over the country. A quick - very quick - look at the Mercury on-line version will tell you where this has been heading. I am a quick reader but never have enough time to read an article before a pop up video fills the screen and there is no close button until the opening titles have finished. The pages are filled with ads, video clips and sponsored ads written into the page to look like all the rest of the news paragraphs. A lot of the stories are obviously also syndicated around the group.
I would hope that the a local paper remains local and that the reporters continue to be based here. There is plenty of office space about but with the advent of new technology do journos actually need a desk to work at; all they have to do is find a wi-fi spot in the local coffee shop and file the story direct to wherever it is published under the watchful eyes of an editor in chief. I think that the current editor does have a wider remit than just the Mercury.
Come back Raymond Brown - I miss you.