The Chester Chronicle is to shut its Sealand Road office in two weeks leaving the newspaper without a base in the city for the first time in its 244-year-old history.
Fourteen staff working for Reach PLC on the Chester Chronicle, Daily Post and associated websites work out of the ground floor office at Maple House close to Sealand Road Park and Ride.
No jobs are at risk as a result of the Chester office closure which will take place on 12th of July, staff will have to travel to a regional office at Liverpool, Colwyn Bay or Manchester or work from home.
The decision by parent company Reach PLC to close its only remaining office in Cheshire comes less than a year since launching their CheshireLive ‘product’ which has replaced Chester Chronicle, Crewe Chronicle and Macclesfield Express websites.
There’s been no hanging about on the Chester office, with estate agents already listing Maple House online for prospective tenants.
The specific Maple House office is listed as 1,539 sq ft at rent of £13,851 per annum, and as a newspaper office in England it may have had the benefit of UK Government business rates subsidy too.
The National Union of Journalists have quoted the Chief Reporter David Holmes,
“It’s a very sad moment in the long and illustrious history of the Chron, which was first published on 2 May 1775, by founder John Poole during the reign of George III around the time of the American War of Independence.
“Deleting our office from the community we serve and scattering the Chester-based team to the four winds will be a challenge both in continuing to provide the same high quality coverage and for us as individuals. ”
One insider told our sister site Wrexham.com,
“We are all very disappointed with the decision and moving forward with our new working options will prove very challenging” adding they hoped readers would continue to support the work they do.”
Chris Morley, NUJ Northern and Midlands senior organiser, said:
“Clearly it is preferable that if cuts have to be made, that it is not yet another lopping of jobs which have been badly depleted in recent years.
But members have well-founded fears that losing a symbolic but significant physical presence in the county capital will set a tone that will make their task of convincing local readers that the company is serious about supporting their interests so much harder.
We really hope the company will remain open to constructive suggestions and does the right thing to make any closure as least damaging to existing staff as possible.”