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Citizen HQ to close in 'streamlining' of sister papers

Staff face relocation and a change in shift patterns in a planned merger of operations at Northcliffe’s Gloucestershire papers.

Both the Gloucestershire Echo in Cheltenham and The Citizen in Gloucester are set to be produced from the same base in Cheltenham in a move that could result in a number of redundancies. The existing Gloucester office will close.

The company has stopped short of appointing a joint editor-in-chief as it has at some other centres and the editors, Anita Syvret at the Echo and Ian Mean at The Citizen, will continue to edit their titles separately.

Under proposals announced by managing director Andrew Blair, there will be joint desks for subbing, production, photographic, features, sports, business and commercial features. The plans also create a joint reporting team to cover county-wide issues but news-gathering would remain individual to each title.

Some jobs are at risk but exact numbers have yet to be established. The company is hoping natural turnover will result in a “relatively small” number of redundancies.

The changes are part of the Aim Higher cost-cutting strategy, which has seen big changes throughout the group, which is currently inviting bids for a purchase of all its centres and newspapers.

The new operation will make use of surplus space at the modern Cheltenham office in Clarence Parade, and the closure of the Gloucester office will, in turn, result in the opening of a new district office to provide an editorial and commercial presence in a “high profile” city centre location, which has already been identified.

Andrew Blair said in a memo to staff: “The editorial teams of our two daily titles already share a lot of content. Having our editorial departments located in the same building would make this easier.

“These changes are significant and represent a real challenge to us all.

“However, making them work would mean that the business is far better placed for the future.

“Gloucestershire is already one of the top performers within the industry. These proposed changes would help ensure that we remain so.”

Overnight print times would be introduced to make the most of morning sales, with The Citizen’s City Final edition being dropped.

The weekly Forester’s editorial structure would remain but benefits from central subbing and photographic teams would be used there too.

The possible sale of Northcliffe Newspapers would not affect the plans, with the Gloucestershire changes due to be complete by June.