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Boris Johnson urged to tackle Newsquest over job cuts plan

BorisThe London Assembly has urged the city’s mayor Boris Johnson to write to Newsquest over proposed changes to its operations in the south of the capital.

An urgent motion was passed unanimously by the assembly yesterday expressing “alarm” at a planned restructure would see senior roles axed and 16 weeklies placed under a single managing editor.

The motion comes the day after a 12-day strike by staff at Newsquest South London was paused amid talks between the company and the National Union of Journalists.

Mr Johnson, who sits as an MP in the House of Commons alongside his mayoral duties, signed an early day motion last week supporting the industrial action.

Assembly member Val Shawcross, who proposed the motion, said: “It’s deplorable that the quality and future of some of our most valued local newspapers could be put at risk by Newsquest’s decision to make severe cuts.

“I’m particularly concerned about the impact this move could have on the working conditions and pay of those who remain in place, and it’s staggering that a business of this stature is still failing to pay some of its staff the London Living Wage.

“The Mayor should be fulfilling his duty to address these concerns by writing urgently to Newsquest.”

Newspapers affected by the strike include the eight-edition South London Guardian series, the Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet and the Richmond & Twickenham Times.

Union members from the News Shopper series also took part in the strike for two days, last Monday and Tuesday.

Stephen Knight AM, who seconded the urgent motion said:

“London local newspapers are vital for ensuring that people are kept informed about what is happening in their local community and that politicians in town halls across the capital are held to account.

“Plans by Newsquest to cut back on staff, pay and conditions will not just hit journalists but also the quality of Newsquest valued newspapers.

“It is a misguided and retrograde step which Newsquest’s owners must reconsider.”

Newsquest has yet to respond to HTFP’s request for a comment on the motion, which can be read in full here.