A group of MPs have tabled a Commons motion urging the Press Association to save a closure-threatened service which provides Westminster coverage for regional newspapers.
As reported by HTFP last week, PA is consulting over the future of its Lobby Extra service, which provides coverage for a range of regional daily and weekly titles, with the possible loss of four journalists jobs.
It is understood the cutbacks have arisen because some of the current subscribers have decided to pull out of the service, rendering it commercially unviable.
However a cross-party group of MPs has criticised the move, claiming it would “serve to increase the perceived remoteness of this House from the constituents that it serves.”
The MPs have tabled a Commons early day motion which states: “This House deeply regrets the Press Association’s proposal to close its dedicated regional lobby press team and make four journalists redundant; believes that this organisation has provided an important service to all parts of the UK since its inception in 1863 under the name Central Press and to newspapers including the Western Daily Press, Liverpool Post, Belfast Telegraph, Bradford Telegraph and Argus, Northern Echo and Bristol Post; and further believes that the withdrawal of this vital connection between hon. Members and their local press will only serve to increase the perceived remoteness of this House from the constituents that it serves and the gulf between the Westminster village and other parts of the country.”
A Press Association spokesman said last week: “We have announced a consultation process in respect to our ‘Lobby extra’ service – which is a tailored service for specific newspapers.
“No decisions have been made and we have no further comment to add at this stage.”
The National Union of Journalists has added its backing to the EDM.
John McDonnell, secretary of the NUJ Parliamentary Group said: “This service provides a vital link between the public and Parliament. It provides information about what is happening at Westminster and the contribution of their local MP.
“Local press journalists play a vital role in any democracy. But the industry is now in crisis, and jobs are being lost at an alarming rate.
“We need national action to protect local newspapers as community assets.”