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Weekly newspaper office fails to sell at auction

A weekly newspaper office which is due to close failed to find a buyer when it went up for auction.

The Batley News’ offices in Commercial Street went under the hammer at an auction by Eddisons earlier this month with a guide price of over £65,000 but was not sold.

The office is due to close and journalists working for the News and sister Johnston Press title the Spenborough Guardian, which is also based there, are set to be relocated to the Reporter Series head office in Dewsbury.

Staff are expected to move out of the building soon despite a petition started by a former journalist for the Reporter Series, Dan Howard, in a bid to keep the office in the town, which has gained just over 100 signatures.

Dan said: “There has been a very good reaction from people in Batley. There’s a great deal of upset, particularly as Batley itself has seen so many other services moved to Dewsbury and other nearby towns.

“There’s a strong feeling that nothing can be done, the closure is inevitable and that the paper itself is no longer Batley orientated anyway – due they say to the amount of shared content with other titles.”

His petition called on the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group to “maintain a permanent presence in the town for the good of the town, the local economy, the newspaper itself and the loyal and proud people of Batley”.

The move is the latest in a string of office closures as part of the Johnston Press’ aims to move staff to “more suitable” accommodation and equip them with new technology such as smartphones.

The paper announced to its readers last month that it would be moving to Wellington Road in Dewsbury, where colleagues on the Dewsbury Reporter are based.

A spokeswoman for Johnston Press said: “The office in Batley was actually closed to the public two years ago after a review of footfall numbers.

“Since then it has been used as a base for reporters for both Cleckheaton and Batley. From this week, reporters’ surgeries will be introduced in both Batley and Birstall. A similar approach was taken when we closed the Cleckheaton office more than 12 months ago and is working well.

“The Batley building’s layout is no longer suitable for our reporting teams to work together effectively. The move to Dewsbury – two miles down the road – will allow for a better working environment for the whole team who work right across the Dewsbury Reporter Series.”