Plans to close Epworth Bells office condemned
The Epworth Bells announces proposed closure - © Private
13 May 2011
Johnston Press has announced plans to close the local office of the Epworth Bells and Crowle Advertiser. The newspaper has provided a service to the community of Epworth and the Isle of Axholme in North Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire for more than 130 years.
The NUJ has condemned the moves. Chris Morley, NUJ northern and midlands organiser, 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."
Only two months ago, John Bills, the paper's managing director commented for the Epworth Bells' historic 7,000th edition on its history of editorial excellence. He said:
"In an age where the iPad and smart phone have quickly become ubiquitous carriers of all things media; there is something warmly reassuring about the continuing presence of the Epworth Bells."
Epworth is the birthplace of Methodism's founder John Wesley. The NUJ maintains that the community served by the Epworth Bells has earned the continuing presence of its vital local newspaper office.