At least 15 jobs are set to go in the latest phase of Trinity Mirror’s rolling restructure of its regional titles, with roles in Birmingham, Liverpool, North Wales and the South East among those at risk.
Staff were informed this afternoon of plans to axe the equivalent of 13.5 full-time posts at the recently-acquired former Local World weeklies in Essex, Kent and Surrey, with a number of weekly editor roles likely to be lost.
The plans will see 12 existing newspaper websites across the three counties merged into three county-wide brands along similar lines to the changes currently being introduced in the South West, each overseen by a single editor.
TM has also announced that 18 existing roles are under threat at its Birmingham, Liverpool and North Wales centres, although 16 new roles are to be created across the three areas.
Eight jobs are set to go in both Liverpool and North Wales, with six new ones being created in each, while in Birmingham, two roles are under threat with four due to be created.
The South East changes will see the equivalent of 5.5 full-time positions lost in Essex, 4.5 in Kent and 3.5 in East Surrey and Sussex.
In Essex, the websites of the Essex Chronicle, pictured below, and Brentwood Gazette will merge to form a county-wide brand which will also cover areas previously considered off the patch of the two titles.
The two titles, which currently have separate editors in Paul Dent-Jones and Alan Woods, will combine under a single editor, with this structure also set to be mirrored on the Kent and Surrey titles.
In Kent, eight websites – those of the Ashford Herald, Canterbury Times, Kent & Sussex Courier, Dover Express, Folkestone Herald, Maidstone and Medway News, Sevenoaks Chronicle and Thanet Gazette – will merge into a single county-wide brand.
And in Surrey, the sites of the Surrey Mirror and the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser will be merged into TM’s existing Get Surrey brand.
The names of the new Essex and Kent websites are yet to be confirmed, but HTFP understands they are likely to appear under TM’s existing ‘Get’ or ‘Live’ brands.
All editorial staff across the three counties are at risk of redundancy, and have now entered a consultation period.
On the South East changes, Trinity Mirror said in a statement: “A number of small local websites across the regions will be consolidated into larger newly-launched digital products.
“This is part of Trinity Mirror’s strategy of regional hubs with hyperlocal news and information sections. There will be no impact on Trinity Mirror’s print portfolio in these regions.
“The businesses remain committed to producing quality print and digital news for local communities across the South-East.”
It added: “Separately, there have been some small changes in Birmingham, Liverpool and North Wales as part of ongoing work to have the right resource in place to deliver news our audiences want, when they want it, and to ensure we are continuing to operate efficiently.”
The rolling restructure, launched in the wake of TM’s £220m takeover of Local World last November, has so far seen redundancies announced in the South West, South Wales and the West Midlands.
A total of 22 jobs are at risk in the South West, seven in the West Midlands and four in South Wales.
In addition five former Local World editors – Paul Brackley, of the Cambridge News, the Leicester Mercury’s Kevin Booth, Dave Atkin of the Scunthorpe Telegraph, Lynne Fernquest of the Bath Chronicle and the Western Daily Press’s Rob Stokes – have left the business.
A sixth, Neil White of the Derby Telegraph, is due to leave on 24 June, while Black County Bugle editor John Butterworth is also at risk of redundancy as a result of the proposals currently under discussion in the West Midlands.