Latest Newsquest subbing hub move and newspaper closure puts 33 jobs at risk

Newsquest has revealed plans to move subbing and production of its newspapers in the North West more than 200 miles away to Wales.

The move affects 23 jobs in Blackburn and another six in Warrington. It follows the loss of 25 jobs after subbing of Newsquest titles in York, Darlington and Bradford were moved to the subbing super hub in Newport.

Meanwhile a further four jobs could go in Surrey where Newsquest has announced the closure of the Elmbridge Guardian, a free weekly with a circulation of 22,000.

Staff on papers including the Warrington Guardian, Lancashire Telegraph and Bolton News said they felt betrayed by their management, according to the National Union of Journalists.

Chris Gee, father of the NUJ chapel in Blackburn, said: "Today we received the devastating news that 23 subbing and production jobs in Blackburn are to be lost, the work being transferred 220 miles away to Newport…

“Our papers should be produced in the heart of the communities they serve, not hundreds of miles away. Here in Blackburn, we have a dedicated and hardworking subbing team whose professionalism in producing the Lancashire Telegraph, Bolton News, Westmorland Gazette and associated titles, has never been called into question.”

He added: “The chapel believes moving these posts so far away will undoubtedly diminish the quality of the products we produce, and for what? The pursuit of short term, transient profits for Newsquest at the expense of the careers and livelihoods of hardworking, loyal staff.

“It is impossible for Newsquest management to underestimate how strongly our members feel and the action we are prepared to take to challenge the nonsensical path the company has chosen."

Tony Howard and Vicki Stockman, father and mother of chapel of Cheshire/Merseyside, said: “We will do our utmost to preserve as many of the six jobs going as possible and will fight for the best possible redundancy terms for those forced to leave. We will also seek to ensure remaining staff, who will be greatly affected by these changes, are protected.

“A great many issues remain unresolved and we will attempt to address those through consultation.”

Chris Morley, Northern and Midlands Organiser, said: "The move to destroy local subbing by Newsquest in the North West, before even the full damage at sister operations in York, Darlington and Bradford has been completed, shows sheer desperation by the company to continue swinging the cost-cutting axe while rivals start to invest in editorial.

“I'm sure the workers at the Newport hub are doing their absolute level professional best to keep up quality but with the vast array of titles flying their way for subbing, it is clearly an impossible task. Our members at Blackburn and Warrington are angry now and we will do all we can to support them at this critical time."

Last month, Bob Smith, father of the chapel of the Newsquest group, revealedhat sub-editors in Newport are working 12-14 hour shifts on a “poorly designed system”. He said: “It is yet another nail in the coffin of local journalism."

Newsquest has also announced the closure of the Elmbridge Guardian in Surrey, resulting in the jobs of three news editors and one reporter put at risk. According to the NUJ, the Newsquest office at Twickenham office will close and staff will be transferred to the Sutton office.

Laura Davison, national organiser of the NUJ, said:  "Newsquest's cost-cutting is set to deprive another community of a local paper and move others to a centralised site.

“Once again the speed of the closure means there is no time to look at alternatives. The community and politicians need to act to defend local news.

“I hope readers will let Newsquest know they want investment in journalists and quality journalism, not more cuts." 

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