Local Journalism in South London - Newsquest Group

Wednesday 1 July 2015, 10:00am

Motion detail

The London Assembly is alarmed by

The London Assembly is alarmed by the current threats facing the quality and long term survival of local newspapers in south London owned and run by the Newsquest Group.

We understand that severe cut backs and restructuring will dramatically reduce both the numbers of reporters and editorial staff, and severely compromise the working conditions and pay of those who remain on the following newspapers:

The Croydon Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Balham and Tooting Guardian, Mitcham and Morden Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet, and the Richmond & Twickenham Times. The News Shopper - for Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley.

The populations served by these papers are large - Croydon alone for example is home to over a third of a million people, it covers 3 Parliamentary Constituencies and one London Borough Council. Under Newsquest’s proposals, this huge geographical area would be covered by just one reporter. It is difficult to see how this would work on a practical, let alone efficient, level.

Newsquest local newspapers are popular and regarded as a useful and interesting source of local information by the communities they cover. We are therefore surprised that Newsquest seem to be seeking to undermine this. London needs quality local newspapers to ensure democratic scrutiny, accountability, and to encourage an informed and active citizenship.

Further to these concerns, we also understand that some staff, including qualified journalists, are being paid less that the ‘London Living Wage’ – which takes account of the high cost of living in London and is calculated as the rate of pay at which it is possible to adequately maintain an adequate quality of life here. We call upon the senior management at Newsquest to adopt the ‘London Living Wage’ and pay staff a livable salary.

Finally, we are alarmed to learn that in future, staff producing these papers may be based outside of London. It’s difficult to understand how any publication registered as a local newspaper could be written and produced outside the city it serves. Such a move would be detrimental to the development and economic growth of London. Furthermore, we understand that some staff may be expected to work remotely and alone, without physical access to office facilities or support from colleagues.

This proposed decimation of staff, pay and conditions cannot fail to be detrimental not only to staff themselves but also to the quality of Newsquest products and we believe that this is a misguided and retrograde step.

Recognising the Mayor’s duty to promote social development and economic development, as well as     his declared objective of increasing the adoption of the London Living Wage, we call upon the Mayor to  urgently write to Newsquest expressing the concerns raised by the London Assembly and seeking  assurance for the staff of Newsquest.

We understand that severe cut backs and restructuring will dramatically reduce both the numbers of reporters and editorial staff, and severely compromise the working conditions and pay of those who remain on the following newspapers:

The Croydon Guardian, Sutton Guardian, Epsom Guardian, Wimbledon Guardian, Wandsworth Guardian, Balham and Tooting Guardian, Mitcham and Morden Guardian, Kingston Guardian, Surrey Comet, Elmbridge Comet, and the Richmond & Twickenham Times. The News Shopper - for Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley.

The populations served by these papers are large - Croydon alone for example is home to over a third of a million people, it covers 3 Parliamentary Constituencies and one London Borough Council. Under Newsquest’s proposals, this huge geographical area would be covered by just one reporter. It is difficult to see how this would work on a practical, let alone efficient, level.

Newsquest local newspapers are popular and regarded as a useful and interesting source of local information by the communities they cover. We are therefore surprised that Newsquest seem to be seeking to undermine this. London needs quality local newspapers to ensure democratic scrutiny, accountability, and to encourage an informed and active citizenship.

Further to these concerns, we also understand that some staff, including qualified journalists, are being paid less that the ‘London Living Wage’ – which takes account of the high cost of living in London and is calculated as the rate of pay at which it is possible to adequately maintain an adequate quality of life here. We call upon the senior management at Newsquest to adopt the ‘London Living Wage’ and pay staff a livable salary.

Finally, we are alarmed to learn that in future, staff producing these papers may be based outside of London. It’s difficult to understand how any publication registered as a local newspaper could be written and produced outside the city it serves. Such a move would be detrimental to the development and economic growth of London. Furthermore, we understand that some staff may be expected to work remotely and alone, without physical access to office facilities or support from colleagues.

This proposed decimation of staff, pay and conditions cannot fail to be detrimental not only to staff themselves but also to the quality of Newsquest products and we believe that this is a misguided and retrograde step.

Recognising the Mayor’s duty to promote social development and economic development, as well as     his declared objective of increasing the adoption of the London Living Wage, we call upon the Mayor to  urgently write to Newsquest expressing the concerns raised by the London Assembly and seeking  assurance for the staff of Newsquest.