Political leaders in York, Darlington and Bradford have expressed concern over plans by Newsquest to move subbing jobs from their towns to South Wales.
In a joint letter to Paul Davidson, outgoing chief executive of Newsquest, the politicians fear the planned move will impact the “democratic life” of their towns and cities.
The letter is signed by Cllr James Alexander, leader of City of York Council; Cllr David Green, leader of Bradford Metropolitan Borough Council and Cllr Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council.
Last week, Press Gazette reported that more than 20 jobs were at risk under the plan to move subs up to 270 miles to Newport in South Wales from the north east of England.
Davidson is standing down from Newsquest on April Fools Day next year.
According to the letter, the political leaders describe the relationship between councils and the local press as “interesting at times” however they accept the press is vital in allowing debate in cities.
“It is our belief that the strength of a local press, much like a Council, is founded on its connection with the communities it serves. Critical in this relationship is a clear understanding of local context. Without this, it is hard to imagine how an editorial line could accurately represent the areas which are of most importance to residents.”
The National Union of Journalists has warned that more than 20 jobs are at risk because of the planned move, with 11 jobs at risk in Bradford, five in York and seven in Darlington.
NUJ Northern and Midlands organiser Chris Morley said the company was once again showing contempt for local journalism by moving vital jobs to a centralised hub outside the community.
“Even by Newsquest standards, it is breath-taking if management think no consequences will flow from sending local news around 270 miles from the far north of England to the southern fringe of Wales."
Copy of the letter:
Dear Mr Davidson,
MOVE OF SUB-EDITING TO NEWPORT
We are writing as the leaders of City of York, Darlington Borough and City of Bradford Metropolitan District Councils to express our concern at reports that sub-editing of local newspapers will be removed from regional offices and moved to a central hub in Newport, Wales.
Local media plays a huge part in the democratic life of our towns and cities. The relationship between local authority and local press can be interesting at times but it is significant to our residents, in allowing debate in a city. It provides an essential mechanism for ensuring elected representatives are held to account by the public.
It is our belief that the strength of a local press, much like a Council, is founded on its connection with the communities it serves. Critical in this relationship is a clear understanding of local context. Without this, it is hard to imagine how an editorial line could accurately represent the areas which are of most importance to residents.
Against the backdrop of previous job-losses and reductions at regional offices, we are concerned about the loss of jobs and viability of local newspapers in our cities if this trend continues and would urge you to reconsider this latest decision. We would like to see sub-editing remain in our region.
Cllr. James Alexander
Leader of City of York Council
Cllr. David Green Leader of Bradford MBC
Cllr. Bill Dixon
Leader of Darlington BC
CC: David Coates – Regional Managing Director, Newsquest (North East)