Thursday 12 May 2011

NUJ fights JP plan to close Epworth Bells' office

The NUJ has condemned moves by Johnston Press to close the office of the Epworth Bells & Crowle Advertiser, which has served the community of Epworth and the Isle of Axholme in North Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire for more than 130 years.

Graeme Huston, editor-in-chief, South Yorkshire Newspapers, said in an article in the paper: "The lease is coming to an end at the Epworth Bells offices at 13 Market Street and as result of this and changing patterns of business we are in the process of consulting with staff about its proposed closure.

"The paper is not affected and editorial and advertising staff would be redeployed to other South Yorkshire Newspapers’ offices. There are plans in place to ensure a continued editorial presence in Epworth and we are confident we will continue to inform and entertain the community via the newspaper and website."

NUJ northern and midlands organiser Chris Morley said: “Anyone searching for a definition of ‘local’ and a tight-knit community could do no better than to look at Epworth and the Isle of Axholme that the Epworth Bells serves.

“For Johnston Press to announce out of the blue on the front page of last week’s edition that the Bells’ office in the town was closing will have been badly received by local people. And to give staff just days’ notice that they were expected to suddenly up sticks to carry out their jobs up to 20 miles away is not acceptable.

“The NUJ is not convinced the company has any intention of carrying out a proper consultation on this and fears that the decision has already been made. Judgment will have to wait until the picture becomes clearer. However, our chapel members also suspect
Epworth’s closure may not be the only target in the sights of local management. Our members are determined to fight to keep local journalists in real touch with their communities and therefore are opposed to short-sighted and damaging office closures.”

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