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Big reshuffle to streamline Northcliffe's Western Newspapers

Up to ten newsroom jobs could go in a reorganisation of Northcliffe’s Western Newspapers weeklies.

Changes being made under the Aim Higher cost reduction programme are set to “streamline” the management structure, with one editor retiring and her deputy’s post being made redundant.

Bath Chronicle editor Sam Holliday is being appointed editor-in-chief of Western Newspapers and will remain editor of the Bath Chronicle.

Western Newspapers brings together five separate publishing centres: Bath Newspapers, Clevedon Newspapers, Mid Somerset Newspapers, Taunton Newspapers and Western Gazette Company.

Between these five centres Western Newspapers publishes one daily newspaper, eight paid-for weeklies and ten free weeklies, totalling more than 432,000 copies a week.

The creation of two sub-editing pools – at Yeovil and Bath – is likely to result in the need for up to five fewer staff and some other posts being relocated locally.

Consultation with people who could be affected, in Bath, Clevedon and Wells, has begun.

In reporting, photography, features and sport, overall numbers are also expected to reduce by four or five, all to be achieved through normal staff turnover.

Under the changes Sam will also become responsible for the Somerset Standard and Somerset Guardian newspapers, with the retirement of editor Joanna Roughton in March. The deputy editor’s position, currently filled by Andy Vallis, will be made redundant, and chief sub-editor Stephanie Feldwicke has been appointed assistant editor, reporting to the editor-in-chief.

The latest news follows the announcement that Martin Heal, editor of the Yeovil-based Western Gazette, will take on responsibility for both the Yeovil and Taunton editorial teams, with Taunton Times editor Debbie Rundle reporting to him as assistant editor in Yeovil.

As part of the restructure, Phil Welch, editor of the Mid Somerset Series in Wells, will run the four titles published from Clevedon – the Weston and Worle News and the Clevedon, Nailsea, Portishead and Yatton Mercurys – supported there by an assistant editor, who has yet to be appointed. Tim Lethaby will remain assistant editor in Wells.

It is expected that the assistant editors will run their papers locally and be the public face of their title, without having the additional managerial and administrative constraints of an editor.

Georgette McCready and Julie Riegal, currently the features editor and sports editor of the Bath Chronicle, will become group features editor and group sports editor for Western Newspapers.

  • Bath Newspapers publishes The Bath Chronicle, Somerset Guardian, Somerset Standard, Warminster & Westbury Standard, Bath Times and West Wiltshire Advertiser Series. The Somerset Guardian, Frome Standard and Warminster & Westbury Standard are paid for weeklies, The Guardian covering Midsomer Norton and Radstock, while the Frome Standard concentrating its coverage on Frome, The Warminster & Westbury Standard was launched in July 2004. The three editions of the free weekly Bath Times cover Bath, Frome and Midsomer Norton/Radstock, with The West Wiltshire Advertiser distributed in Trowbridge, Chippenham, Melksham and Warminster.
  • Clevedon Newspapers publishes the Clevedon, Nailsea, Portishead & Yatton Mercury and the Weston & Worle News.
  • Mid Somerset Newspapers publishes a series of four paid-for weekly newspapers, the Wells Journal, Shepton Mallet Journal, Central Somerset Gazette and Cheddar Valley Gazette, three free weeklies, the Bridgwater Times, Burnham & Highbridge Times and the Mid Somerset Times, and the Mendip Messenger – a free weekly magazine.
  • Taunton Newspapers publishes the Taunton Times and Wellington Weekly News.
  • The Western Gazette Company publishes the Western Gazette, a paid-for weekly newspaper, and the Yeovil Times, a free weekly.
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