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N Yorks newspaper press set to close

Yorkshire Regional Newspapers has announced plans to close its press at the Scarborough Evening News, resulting in job losses for up to 11 pressroom employees.

The company wants to transfer printing of the daily paper to Wakefield until the autumn, when that press is also scheduled to close.

The National Union of Journalists fears it is likely that many of the Johnston Press papers from the area will then be printed at Dinnington, Sheffield, which is 95 miles from Scarborough.

But the company says affected titles, including the Whitby Gazette, Bridlington Free Press, Driffield Times, Pocklington Post, Malton and Pickering Mercury, Filey & Hunmanby Mercury, Driffield Post, Beverley Guardian, and the Trader, would benefit from the additional colour availability and insertion capability which alternative Johnston Press Group print sites would provide.

The announcement follows a review of print activities at Scarborough which proposes that due to the age and condition of the Scarborough press and existing and planned press capacity elsewhere in the group, it was not considered economical to reinvest at Scarborough.

Modern presses and associated equipment at the other Johnston Press centres will also allow production of multi-section papers to be automated.

The union is worried that a two-hour road journey to somewhere like Dinnington would have implications for deadlines, and possibly prompt new and unsociable working hours for some staff.

General secretary Jeremy Dear said: “We regret this decision, entailing as it does a significant number of job losses, and would question the decision to have the paper printed so far from the paper’s distribution area.

“If, and only if, this is absolutely necessary, we would expect at the very least shift allowances for unsocial hours, such as early shifts and those at weekends, if any proposed shift changes are introduced.”

Johnston’s statement to staff said: “Should this proposal, which could involve up to 11 redundancies, go ahead every effort would be made to minimise the impact of this restructuring through voluntary severance, redeployment within the company or through appointments to other vacancies within Johnston Press.”

The company will now enter into consultation with the affected staff and their representatives.