Compulsory redundancies have been avoided after regional publisher Johnston Press confirmed the closure of its production hub in Preston, say union reps.
The publisher announced plans in August to shut its production unit at the offices of the Lancashire Evening Post in Preston, and transfer the work 80 miles away to Sheffield.
The National Union of Journalists’ chapel in Preston told HTFP that the content design unit was closed last week and none of the nine affected journalists had opted to transfer to Sheffield.
But the NUJ said its members had all found alternative roles within JP’s North West division, apart from one person who had accepted voluntary redundancy.
It comes after the regional publisher also announced plans last month to close the subbing hub in Sunderland and transfer the work to Sheffield, while its Horsham production unit was closed in August with the work moved to Peterborough.
A statement from the chapel said it remained concerned that the quality of journalism would be affected and had not been informed how late pages, such as football reports, would be sent from North West titles.
But regional MD Gary Fearon has insisted the papers would not be adversely affected.
A spokesman for the Preston chapel said: “The concern of members since the outset has been to protect the quality of journalism which has been a mainstay of our titles for more than a century.
“We have been told by senior management that the decision to shut Preston’s CDU is nothing to do with the quality of work it produces, simply numbers.
“The fear of members is that this philosophy of numbers over quality will further exacerbate the most important number of all – the decline of the readership of our papers.”
North West managing director Gary Fearon said: “We see no reason why the quality of any of the products should be affected by the transfer to Sheffield as the designers in the hub are all experienced and talented journalists.
“Within the hub there are champions for weekly and daily titles who will spend time understanding the individual characteristics of the newspapers and communicate with the staff in centre to ensure the best possible design service.”