Local newspapers

Find a solution to the NUJ Newsquest dispute

02 November 2016

Local newspapers perform a key role in democratic scrutiny and accountability.

The London Assembly today urged Mayor Sadiq Khan to get involved in the National Union of Journalists’ dispute with Newsquest, in order to support the quality of local newspapers.

The Assembly expressed concern at Newsquest’s planned restructuring, which will see 12 reporters covering 11 newspapers and 8 websites under a single content editor.

The Mayor should also commit to look at ways in which local newspaper provision can be supported across London.

Fiona Twycross AM, who proposed the motion said:

“Newsquest staff are faced with the awful quandary that they either lose their job or they see their workload increase hugely. It’s a terrible position for anyone to find themselves in.  A strong local press is one of the most effective contributors to local democracy, and an important way of keeping local people informed.

These changes present an unwelcome triple threat to jobs, scrutiny and local accountability. I’d urge the Mayor to throw his weight behind this issue further, so we can end this dispute in a way that protects workers and local press provision, not just in south London but across our city.”

The full text of the Motion is:

This Assembly is deeply concerned about Newsquest South London’s plans to significantly reduce its workforce, and at a time when resources for news provision across the capital are already considerably stretched.

The newsroom restructure will result in just 12 reporters covering news, sport and leisure across 11 newspapers and eight websites under a single content editor. Seven reporters have resigned over the plans and others face redundancy.

In addition to the reduction of the number of newsroom staff, the working conditions of those that remain with Newsquest will be severely compromised. This includes 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, the Richmond & Twickenham Times and The News Shopper - for Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley.

This Assembly believes that newsroom staff across the city provide an essential service informing the public and raising their awareness of key issues in their local areas. They serve as a valuable means of engaging individuals with the democratic process, informing Londoners of the work we do here at the London Assembly. To lose or greatly compromise the ability of newsroom staff to continue to serve the public in this way would be regrettable. London needs quality local newspapers to ensure democratic scrutiny, accountability, and to encourage an informed and active citizenship – these proposals do not provide that.

This Assembly calls on the Mayor to continue to engage with the NUJ and Newsquest in this dispute to find a solution that maintains the quality of the South London Press publications, and commit to look at ways in which local newspaper provision can be supported in London.

Notes to editors

  1. Watch the full webcast.
  2. The motion was agreed by 16 votes for, to 0 votes against.
  3. Fiona Twycross AM who proposed the motion is available for interviews. Please see contact details below.
  4. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For media enquiries, please contact Lisa Lam on 020 7983 4067.  For out of hours media enquiries, call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the London Assembly duty press officerNon-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit on 020 7983 4100.