Senior editor roles axed across Newsquest's South London weeklies and Petts Wood newsroom to close

Newsquest is set to merge its South East and South West London operations with a number of job losses expected.

The newspaper titles affected include: The Croydon Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Balham and Tooting Guardian, Mitcham and Morden Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet, and the Richmond & Twickenham Times. The News Shopper series has editions in Dartford, Lewisham, Greenwich, Gravesend, Bexley and Bromley.

According to the NUJ, the posts of group editor, editor, deputy editor, assistant editor and news editor will be replaced with one group deputy managing editor.

Two senior sports journalist roles across South East and South West London will be replaced with one content editor (sports).

The number of editorial assistants will be cut from two to one and the roles of online commercial content developer, deputy news editor, assistant news editor and chief reporters jobs are also at risk of redundancy.

There are said to be 11 vacancies within the proposed restructure for Newsquest South London. Those at risk of redundancy will be considered for six content editor (news) jobs, four reporter (news) jobs and one sports reporter job.  

The NUJ believes that the reporting staff of the South West London papers is being cut from 16 to 14 (excluding content editors). 

The new structure is proposed to take effect from Friday 26 June 2015.

Journalists on the South London NUJ chapel said in a statement: "The chapel rejects the company's proposals to restructure the South London editorial department and to place positions under threat of redundancy.
 
"The chapel has warned the company that investment, not cost efficiencies, are required to make the business competitive in the long term and maintain quality. It has also warned the company on several occasions that cutting staff is making working conditions perilous and that urgent action is required to rectify this."
 
Laura Davison, NUJ national organiser, said: "The South London NUJ chapel has a determined record of standing up for local quality journalism. They won't simply sit by and see their papers damaged by cuts driven from above which will leave journalists even more over stretched and readers and advertisers worse off. The NUJ is arguing for a short sharp government inquiry into the local press to look at alternatives to the endless cutbacks. This should now be a top priority for the new Culture Secretary in government."

The Petts Wood newsroom is set to close and journalists have been told they may need to work "remotely" in future. Press Gazette understands that a number of staff are being moved to the Sutton offices.

Petts Wood-based titles affected by the move include the News Shopper series which covers Bexley, Bromley, Dartford, Lewisham and Greenwich.

Managing director of Newsquest South London Gary Kendall said: “At this stage we are in consultation with both those potentially impacted by the proposal and local NUJ representatives, and these consultations could lead to the number of people affected by the proposals changing.”

He confirmed that under these plans, editorial staff in South East London would work remotely and that a six-week consultation period has begun.

He added: “Fundamental to the proposal is the desire to retain the overall number of reporting staff, and our commitment to continuing to provide high quality journalistic content for our print and online products.

“However, we believe efficiencies can be gained by consolidating a number of more senior roles which would be achievable through operating from one management centre.”

A Newsquest source told Press Gazette: "Newsquest South West London and South East London are being merged, with editorial roles being cut and people being made redundant.

"At South East we have all been given six weeks notice until we have to move out of the Petts Wood office and work remotely."

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