Keep the Burton Mail local, urges NUJ
17 December 2019
Reach plc has announced the Burton Mail will shut its local office in January 2020. The plan involves staff, who work for the regional daily title, moving to the Derby Telegraph office part-time and also working from home. On Thursday this week the company has scheduled individual consultations with the staff members affected so they can discuss the impact of the closure.
The local NUJ chapel wants the company to resource a new and cost-effective base for journalists in the town, the union is also seeking a guarantee that the Burton Mail team will remain intact so they can continue to offer distinctive local reporting and quality journalism. Staff are also seeking commitments that no one will lose out financially because they will now be required to work from home.
Chris Morley, NUJ northern and midlands senior organiser, said:
"We are entering talks with the company about a very significant development for our members which some fear may compromise the future of the Burton Mail as a proud daily publication. This newspaper and its brand are highly regarded locally and have a successful history in representing this unique and very individual town. It is crucial that the journalistic team that does so much to properly reflect that is not broken up and its character destroyed. We will be working with the company to make this both a sustainable and successful business. We hope the company will seriously consider all the options and take the right choices, not necessarily the easy but unsustainable ones."
The local NUJ branch have launched a campaign to oppose the office closure in Burton, they have offered support and solidarity to the journalists affected and have expressed concern that the actions of the company imply a move towards closing the newspaper. The branch have called upon management to rescind their decision and have reached out to local businesses, politicians, civic society organisations, advertisers and readers to support the campaign, asking people to send their views to Reach plc.
The local union has previously contacted local businesses, public bodies and other organisations to highlight concerns that Reach plc had previously planned to close the Burton Mail website. They secured local support emanating not just from Burton, but East Staffordshire, South Derbyshire, North West Leicestershire and beyond. This public support helped convince the company to establish the Staffordshire Live website to cover Burton and other areas.
The Burton Mail was established to represent the brewing industry and has proudly served the local community for many years. The union is campaigning to ensure there is a viable future for the title. Reach plc claim they are not renewing the current lease for the Burton Mail office because they are trying to save money. The company accounts show they made a pre-tax profit of £141.9m last year.
The NUJ wants the newspaper to remain at the heart of the community that it has served well - this means that staff should be empowered to be able to do their job properly within a decent and local office.