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Staff at two weeklies to be based off patch after office closures

Staff at two weekly newspapers are set to be based away from their respective patches after a regional publisher’s decision to close their offices.

Journalists at the Banbury Guardian will now work from the headquarters of Johnston Press sister title the Leamington Spa Courier, more than 20 miles from their former base in the Oxfordshire town.

Meanwhile JP is set to close the offices of the Daventry Express, where one reporter on the newspaper is currently based.

It is understood the journalist will work from home or the offices of the Northampton Chronicle and Echo, around 12 miles away.

Banbury Guardian office

The Express office, on High street, in the Northamptonshire town, is set to shut its doors on 8 January, while the Guardian’s North Bar headquarters, pictured above, has already closed, with staff understood to have been given three weeks notice prior to the transfer to Leamington.

Both the Express and the Guardian form part of JP’s South Midlands publishing unit, which earlier this year adopted the company’s ‘Newsroom of the Future’ structure.

The initiative sees journalists working across multiple titles within the same region.

Other offices to close within the same publishing unit recently include those of the Harborough Mail and the Corby district office of the Northants Telegraph, which both shut their doors in 2014.

In recent years JP has undertaken an ongoing programme of office closures o ensure that its remaining buildings are “fit-for-purpose”.

HTFP has requested a comment on the issue from the company.

19 comments

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  • December 22, 2015 at 9:45 pm
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    Will their orgy of local newspapers destruction never end? JP don’t care about their staff, they don’t care about the quality of their product, or the communities whose local newspapers have been despoiled. Just plain stupid, greedy and ruthless.

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  • December 23, 2015 at 6:39 am
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    I am breathless with excitement at how JP will respond to HTFP’s request for a comment. However, while we wait, let’s just note that thoroughly decent three weeks’ notice of that office closure. Happy Christmas one and all.

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  • December 23, 2015 at 7:05 am
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    With all costs needing to be reviewed and cost cuts necessary,this will become a familiar and regular occurrence next year and staff working from home and off patch will become the norm as a result.
    Whilst accepting it’s a backward step to retreat from a location on patch and to isolate staff by remote working it’s sadly inevitable due to the worsening financial situation in the regionals.
    Too many offices remain open with staff rattling around inside that are clearly unfit for purpose with staff numbers reduced and revenues on the floor yet with many still incurring leasehold costs higher than when profits were good and when having a branch office was a viable option.
    Keeping overheads down in light of falling revenues from advertising and copy sales will mean more and more regionals will close underused branch offices or those where the overheads against incomes make it unprofitable to continue.

    building costs and staff salaries are the two biggest expenditures for any business so it’s not hard to see where the next round of cuts will follow and where the axe will fall so let’s just hope it’s on those many managers who have high costs against them in terms of salary, bonus, expenses,car etc yet who’s value and profitability to the company are poor,as opposed to pruning back from the editorial side that’s already understaffed and over stretched yet is always the first to suffer whenever cut backs are needed.
    Closing regional offices and moving staff to home working or a centralised base will be a common theme in 2016 and is one we will see across the whole country forever changing the landscape of local paper publishing as we knew it

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  • December 23, 2015 at 9:31 am
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    Anyone at JP who is on a seven figure salary and occupying an office in the centre of one of the most expensive cities on earth should, if there was any justice in the world, be worried.

    And a Merry Christmas to all our readers and advertisers!

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  • December 23, 2015 at 9:34 am
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    A sad day for the Banbury Guardian, a proud paper I edited in the 1980s. This will go down very badly with the locals who are fiercely independent. Leamington and Banbury might as well be on different planets. There is no real connection and that 20 mile trip can be a slow one. When there is nothing else to cut this is the inevitable outcome that will accelerate the paper’s demise.

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  • December 23, 2015 at 9:40 am
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    Employee x’s analysis is spot-on. An industry in vertiginous decline will slash costs in all the wrong places, targeting those most directly involved in generating what revenue is left and sparing bodies in marginal administrative and “executive” roles. Indeed, one of the latter is in my eye-line now, having done about 30 minutes actual work in the 18 or so hours they have been in the building this week. At the start of 2015 I predicted a bloody year; it’s been worse than I feared. Anyway, this site has been an excellent debating forum and to Oliver, Jeff Jones, archant lifer and all my fellow posters have a happy Christmas and a prosperous (you must remember those days) New Year.

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  • December 23, 2015 at 10:42 am
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    Sad, bad news and as in other counties it will accelerate the decline in quality of the papers, their circulation, staff morale etc.
    The Banbury Guardian was once a good local paper with lots of pages, good tales, lots of detailed follow-ups, features, grass root contact with residents, councils, police etc etc.
    Bring back Lobby Lud….

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  • December 23, 2015 at 10:48 am
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    Merry Christmas to you Dick Minim and fellow posters. Despite all the doom and gloom surrounding our industry, I enjoy the debate and discussion on this site. A heady mixture of memories and multi-coloured musings.
    It would be great to be commenting on a revival in 2016. These things go in cycles… or do they?

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  • December 23, 2015 at 3:12 pm
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    Anyone ever encounter the splendidly named Cyrus Pundole at the Daventry Express? Think that was his name and he was a deputy editor.

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  • December 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm
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    Anyone working anywhere other than in a head office needs to be concerned,as employee x surmises it makes no sense whatsoever to keep open offices and buildings that cannot justify the cost in doing so and where costs and overheads outweigh the commercial revenues emanating from the people in the building.
    We can all hark back to the glory days and rightly talk about the folly of withdrawing from a location that the papers serve but in today’s world of low revenues and car crash copy sales there is no alternative other than to close branch offices to get anywhere near the level of cost savings demanded by the boards.
    However if those bean counters in positions of power analysed how much deadwood they are carrying on their fte figures and the level of salary and packages attributed to paper shufflers the costs could readily be found which might mean a cessation of this suicidal policy of dissolving teams and taking the remote worker route.

    The answer is there in instant cost savings if any ceo or fd is prepared to take it but it appears they’d rather close buildings and shed editorial staff rather than tackle the issue of too many managers on the books

    Sadly this is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of office closures and yes 2016 will see greatly pared down regional press operations but at what further cost to the quality and viability of the papers themselves.

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  • December 23, 2015 at 3:49 pm
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    no more snappers: Cyrus was doing subbing shifts at The Sunday Times sports desk for years and freelancing for Northcliffe regionals pre-Local World. Think he’s gone to i now.

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  • December 23, 2015 at 6:44 pm
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    They’ve got rid of most of the staff, the buildings are being sold off. There are no more substantial cuts to made and every small cut damages the product more. Shares will plummet in the new year. Just watch.

    Well done to the zombie company JP.

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  • December 28, 2015 at 9:11 pm
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    wished the monopolies commission had more of their way when the JP trawling net was scooping up newspapers back in the nineties, a few more papers might still be around!

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  • December 29, 2015 at 10:36 am
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    I think JP would have been able to ride out the past few years much more easily but for its foolish ego-driven newspaper purchases and forking out hundreds of thousands for re-designs that could easily have been done in house and are now largely forgotten.
    But let’s hope for a better year in 2016 for the poor souls striving to keep the ship afloat.

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  • December 29, 2015 at 1:13 pm
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    Really sad to hear about these changes. I really enjoyed working on both papers. Both the Daventry Express and the Banbury Guardian are staffed by great reporters who care deeply about the communities they serve.

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  • December 30, 2015 at 3:39 pm
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    loved my paper. hated the company for its ineptitude and disregard of staff. My best wishes do those depending on this creaking company for a living in 2016. They deserve better.

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  • December 31, 2015 at 11:09 am
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    @ ex jp hack.

    I am totally with you on this! totally!

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