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Journalists fight to stay in city centre office

Journalists at a Yorkshire weekly have launched a last-ditch campaign to stay in their city centre office.

The National Union of Journalists chapel at the Wakefield Express says management at parent company Johnston Press are close to securing a sale for the property.

If it goes ahead, the Express team is expecting to move to an out-of-town location and leave its home of 150 years.

A statement from the Express union chapel said: “NUJ members believe that moving our award-winning paper from the city centre would be a disaster for the city and could mean the end of the Express as we know it.

“And there are fears the move could be a step towards the centralisation of other Johnston Press-owned titles in the Wakefield district at an out-of-town ‘news factory’.

“The Express NUJ chapel has refused to let this happen and is urging Johnston Press to keep the paper at a city centre location.”

A public meeting is being held at the Wakefield Labour Club on 23 April as part of the ‘Keep the Express in Wakefield’ campaign which will be chaired by former local MP David Hinchcliffe.

There will be a screening of a documentary made in 1952 to celebrate the paper’s centenary.

NUJ northern organiser Chris Morley added: “The Wakefield Express has been rooted in the very fabric of the city for more than 150 years and has proudly stood in Southgate as an accessible champion of its people during all that time.

“If the bosses of Johnson Press have their way, it will be shunted off to the cheapest out-of-town site they can find. Its ability to stand up for the city will surely diminish as it becomes marginalised by its own owners.

“By moving newspapers out of town, they are taking the heart out of the city and leaving a key element of local democracy to shout from the sidelines.”

Johnston Press had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.