A council has told regional publisher Johnston Press it will oppose any plans to move the Lancashire Evening Post to weekly publication.
Preston City Council unanimously approved a motion last week raising concerns about any attempts to change the Preston-based regional daily to become a weekly title.
The motion will see the council writing to Johnston Press calling on it to continue to invest in quality journalism in Preston amid fears by staff about it moving weekly.
Johnston Press chief executive Ashley Highfield has already said no more dailies will move weekly this year but this has failed to quell fears by the council.
The motion was put foward by Councillor Michael Lavalette, who is an independent Socialist, who said he had talked to the National Union of Journalists chapel at the paper about their concerns.
He said: “It was partly a reflection about what people at the LEP were feeling about their jobs. It was also about the national picture about what is happening to local papers.
“We want to make sure we have a daily paper which in part is there to scrutinise decisions made at local and county level. The motion was about democratic accountability and the need for a free press.”
Council leader Peter Rankin was also planning to meet with management at the regional publisher about their concerns.
The approved motion reads that Preston City Council resolves: “1. To write to the owners of the LEP and its parent company, Johnston Press, congratulating them at the award of North West Newspaper of the Year but raising our concerns about any possible moves away from a daily paper and calling on it to continue to invest in quality journalism in Preston; 2. To support publicly the LEP as a daily paper for the city.”
Lawrence Shaw, the NUJ’s assistant regional organiser for Northern England, said it was important that Johnston Press took note of the clear message from the council.
He said: “Politicians of all shades are united on the need for Preston to have a strong, vibrant and independent local daily newspaper as a vital part of the democratic fabric of the city.”
Five Johnston Press daily publications have been coverted to weekly titles already but in April, North-West managing director Gary Fearon said there were “no plans” to move the LEP, Blackpool Gazette or Wigan Evening Post to weekly publication.
A wide-ranging restructure by Johnston Press in the region saw long-standing LEP editor Simon Reynolds leave in April after 11 years who has now been replaced by Gillian Gray, who will also lead sister weekly the Chorley Guardian.
The paper was named as North West Daily Newspaper of the Year at the O2 Media Awards.
Johnston Press has declined to comment further.