By Lou Thomas
Newsquest is to make redundancies at three of its regional newspaper centres across the country.
Jobs will be lost in York, Essex and Buckinghamshire, according to insiders and the NUJ. Newsquest management has declined to comment.
The Bucks Free Press is understood to be losing five jobs from a staff of 35.
A sub-editor, a photographer, a community news reporter, an editorial administrator and one other member of staff are to go. Between three and six journalist positions on the features desk have also been made redundant, but staff will be moved to a central features unit at Watford.
A source told Press Gazette: "We’ve just had consultation about the redundancies.
To be fair to the management they are trying to reduce the number of redundancies they have to dish out and are trying to help find other jobs.
"It could have been worse, but that isn’t much comfort to those losing their jobs.
"Despite the fact that our circulation was fine last year we’ve flatlined in terms of revenue coming in and they believe we’re not going to increase it.
It’s the fact that other things aren’t carrying on purely as cost-cutting measures to keep the shareholders happy."
Bucks Free Press editor Steve Cohen declined to comment.
NUJ south of England organiser Don Mackglew said: "The NUJ is concerned about the continuing number of redundancies affecting the industry at the moment. Newsquest has made redundancies in Scotland and is talking about redundancies in Essex as well as the Bucks Free Press. The advertising revenue for Newsquest titles has fallen.
They can’t reach their targets and because of this they can’t reach their profits for shareholders."
Mackglew said that the only way Newsquest can deal with the situation is to amalgamate newspapers, close offices and make people redundant. He said this would clearly affect the quality of the paper that is published. He added that the NUJ was in talks with newspapers in Colchester, Basildon and Southend.
Newsquest staff at the Evening Press in York are also fearing possible job cuts. It has been estimated that more than 10 editorial posts could be axed as part of a review and partly due to difficult trading conditions.
Three weeks ago Press Gazette reported Newsquest directors were called into a meeting to discuss major cutbacks across the company. It was feared that overheads may have to be cut by up to 10 per cent and that most of that would be from editorial.
■ It is understood that any compulsory redundancies are unlikely at the Manchester Evening News, owned by the Guardian Media Group. It is believed that 25 journalists volunteered for redundancy, one is being redeployed and one fixed-term contract is being terminated, which could be seen as being compulsory.
The company is also trying to introduce flexible working hours so journalists could work more weekends and evenings which, it is believed, could be put into dispute by the NUJ.