31 jobs go in new Northcliffe West Country cull

The cuts come after Plymouth and Bristol-based titles merge.

More than 30 editorial jobs are to go at Northcliffe's West Country titles as the Plymouth-based Western Morning News and the Bristol-based Western Daily Press come under one editor and merge their subbing operations.

Western Morning News editor Alan Qualtrough is to take over as editor-in-chief of the two titles, and Daily Press editor Andy Wright is to retire.

A new centralised hub has been announced which will see journalists in Plymouth sub The Herald, the Torquay-based Herald Express and the Express and Echo in Exeter. Some 20 subbing posts at Torquay and Exeter are at risk.

Production of the Morning News itself is being moved to Bristol, where the Western Daily Press is based under the proposed changes.

Staff have been told that the changes put 11 editorial jobs in Bristol at risk of redundancy. They have also been told that the papers are to be relaunched to have similar looks.

Press Gazette understands that the relaunched titles are set to hit newsstands in the middle of next month.

The latest changes follow the axing of 45 editorial jobs, or one in three positions, at the Bristol Evening Post and Western Daily Press in early 2009. In 2005, 36 journalists were cut from the two papers when they were largely merged.

In the last six months of 2009, circulation of the Plymouth-based Western Morning News dropped 6.5 per cent year on year to 35,352 and the Bristol-based Western Daily Press dropped 10.7 per cent to 34,109.