Three council leaders have written a joint letter opposing plans by Newsquest to shift production from Yorkshire and the North-East to a subbing hub in South Wales.
The National Union of Journalists claimed last week that 23 sub-editing jobs in total could be lost at titles in York, Bradford and Darlington over proposals by the publisher to transfer the work to a subbing hub in Newport.
Now the leaders of the councils in the three affected areas have written a letter to Newsquest chief executive Paul Davidson to express their concern about the removal of sub-editing from the region and urge the company to reconsider its plans.
The joint letter is signed by Cllr James Alexander from the City of York Council, Cllr David Green from Bradford Metropolitan District Council and Cllr Bill Dixon, leader of Darlington Borough Council and a copy has also been sent to Newsquest’s regional managing director David Coates.
In the letter, the council leaders highlight the importance of the connection local newspapers have with their communities and say they are concerned about the loss of jobs.
Papers affected include regional dailies The Northern Echo, The Press in York and the Bradford Telegraph and Argus, along with sister weeklies such as the Craven Herald, Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer, Keighley News, Durham Times and Darlington and Stockton Times.
The letter by the council leaders says: “We are writing as the leaders of City of York, Darlington Borough and City of Bradford Metropolitan District Councils to express our concern at reports that sub-editing of local newspapers will be removed from regional offices and moved to a central hub in Newport, Wales.
“Local media plays a huge part in the democratic life of our towns and cities. The relationship between local authority and local press can be interesting at times but it is significant to our residents, in allowing debate in a city. It provides an essential mechanism for ensuring elected representatives are held to account by the public.
“It is our belief that the strength of a local press, much like a council, is founded on its connection with the communities it serves. Critical in this relationship is a clear understanding of local context.
“Without this, it is hard to imagine how an editorial line could accurately represent the areas which are of most importance to residents.
“Against the backdrop of previous job-losses and reductions at regional offices, we are concerned about the loss of jobs and viability of local newspapers in our cities if this trend continues and would urge you to reconsider this latest decision. We would like to see sub-editing remain in our region.”
The union said there were five sub-editing jobs at risk in York, 11 in Bradford and seven in Darlington.
When the proposals were revealed, the NUJ hit out at them and a statement from Mark Stead and Tony Kelly, joint Fathers of Chapel in York, said they were “totally outraged at this development and opposed to any more redundancies”.
The move comes two months after Newsquest axed its production hub in Worcester with the loss of 15 jobs, with some of the work transferred to the Newport hub.
No one from Newsquest had responded to requests for a comment at the time of publication.