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Journalists' plea to keep subs closer to home

Staff at a weekly newspaper group have put forward their own proposals on the future of sub-editing operations after Johnston Press announced a major shake-up.

Earlier this month the company revealed it wanted to create three sub-editing centres in Peterborough, Northampton and Milton Keynes for its weekly titles in the Midlands and Anglia, placing 49 jobs under threat.

Journalists concerned about losing touch with their patches and increased commuting times met with management on Wednesday to offer an alternative solution.

Their plan would see the centralisation of many functions of the Anglia Newspapers division in Bury St Edmunds instead of the current proposal in Peterborough, keeping staff closer to their patches.

This proposal does not affect the plan to centralise subbing in Northampton and Milton Keynes.

Also at the meeting in Peterborough were staff and National Union of Journalists reps from Central Counties Newspapers North and Central Counties Newspapers South, also affected by the editorial shake-up.

They have now vowed to go away and draw up similar ideas for their own areas as alternatives to moving to Northampton and Milton Keynes respectively.

The NUJ’s head of publishing Barry Fitzpatrick said: “Managers say they want to achieve greater efficiency and we’ve now tabled some ideas that we believe will do just that without seriously undermining the relationships with the titles’ readers.

“We’ve been assured by management that they are going to give our alternative proposals serious consideration so we’ll be waiting with interest for their response.

“Johnston Press says that at this stage nothing has been finalised and, since our ideas would far better serve the local communities covered by the papers, I can’t see how management could now try to force through their original proposals.

“Our negotiations with management have so far been constructive and we’re hoping that management’s statements about seeking agreement are backed up by actions.”

Danny Cammiade, chief operating officer of Johnston Press, said: “This is entirely a local matter which is being dealt with in the proper process and I am pleased to see there’s a positive dialogue between all those involved.”