Five more local newspaper offices are set to close in South Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire as the cutbacks at Johnston Press continue.
The regional publisher is to shut the main offices of the Matlock Mercury and Ripley and Heanor News together with those of the South Yorkshire Times in Mexborough and two satellite offices of the Mansfield Chad in Mansfield town centre and Sutton-in-Ashfield.
It means the Mercury has now lost its long-serving editor, Amanda Hatfield, and its Firs Parade office in the town within the space of a month.
Johnston Press says the newspapers will continue to be staffed by editorial teams “working locally” but it is as yet unclear where their journalists will be based.
The proposed office closures come little more than a year after those of sister titles the Belper News, the Eckington Leader and the Kimberley Advertiser.
At the time, the Belper News’ sole reporter was relocated to the Ripley office five miles away, but now that too is to close.
The proposed closures were announced to staff in a memo by John Bills, managing director of JP’s North Midlands and South Yorkshire business unit, which has been seen by HTFP.
Johnston Press has declined to comment further on the plans, which are expected to lead to the equivalent of 4.5 full-time posts being lost.
The memo stated: “Following a detailed review of the reception office foot-fall and business activity in the town, the company proposes to close five offices; Matlock, Sutton, Mansfield Marketplace, Ripley and Mexborough.
“All titles currently produced from these offices will continue to be published with the local editorial content being created by the same teams who will continue to work locally.
“Local reporters and sales staff will continue to cover these areas through agreed contact points and regular reporter surgeries.
“These arrangements will be complemented, where appropriate, by a presence in the offices of organisations such as tourist information centres and community groups to support our local community engagement.
“As a result if this proposal were to be implemented there would be a headcount reduction of 4.5 FTE.
“Prior to any implementation, we will consult extensively on an individual and collective basis. During this consultation process we will explain the procedure, consider all alternatives, examine ways of mitigating the effects of this proposal, determine redundancy terms and address any other issues that may arise.
“We anticipate that this consultation process will be complete by 13 July 2012.
“In the event this proposal goes ahead, the company will endeavour to minimise the impact of the proposal through voluntary redundancy and re-deployment to alternative positions within the company and the group.”