Politicians have condemned the decision by the Press Association to close its regional lobby operation – a “vital” service that provides Westminster news for some of the UK’s biggest regional newspapers.
The move to close Lobby Extra will reportedly result in the loss of four journalism jobs, though PA insists no decisions have yet been made.
According to the National Union of Journalists, newspapers affected include the North Wales Daily Post, Liverpool Post, Northern Echo, Western Daily Press, Belfast Telegraph, Bristol Post, Brighton Argus, Oxford Mail, Southern Daily Echo, Swindon Advertiser, Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Carlisle News and Star, North West Evening Mail and Oldham Evening Chronicle.
An Early Day Motion condemning the action has so far been signed by seven MPs.
That this House deeply regrets the Press Association's proposal to close its dedicated regional lobby press team and make four journalists redundant; believes that this organisation has provided an important service to all parts of the UK since its inception in 1863 under the name Central Press and to newspapers including the Western Daily Press, Liverpool Post, Belfast Telegraph, Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Northern Echo and Bristol Post; and further believes that the withdrawal of this vital connection between hon. Members and their local press will only serve to increase the perceived remoteness of this House from the constituents that it serves and the gulf between the Westminster village and other parts of the country.
The NUJ Parliamentary Group is also backing the motion. Secretary of the group John McDonnell said: “This service provides a vital link between the public and Parliament. It provides information about what is happening at Westminster and the contribution of their local MP.
“Staff cuts in the local and regional press already mean that courts and councils are not being covered.
“Local press journalists play a vital role in any democracy. But the industry is now in crisis, and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate. We need national action to protect local newspapers as community assets.”
A PA spokesman commented: “We have announced a consultation process in respect of our ‘Lobby Extra’ service – which is a tailored service for specific newspapers. No decisions have been made and we have no further comment to add at this stage.”