Northcliffe’s West of England daily, the Western Daily Press, is to return to its Bristol base, little more than a year after a controversial move to Plymouth which baffled staff and led to several job losses.
It was only in March last year that the Western Daily’s newsdesk was sent down the M5 to Plymouth, putting its editorial team up to 150 miles from parts of their circulation area.
The features and production operations were sent to Plymouth eight months later, in November last year. The moves were intended to allow greater cooperation with the Western Morning News, which covers Devon and Cornwall.
However, few Western Daily staff were willing to move their lives to Devon in order to keep their jobs and at least four took redundancy instead.
Now the management appears to have realised that the practice of basing a newspaper so far outside its circulation area is unworkable – though a statement to staff contained no admission of error.
The Western Daily’s recently appointed boss, Bristol News & Media publisher Alan Renwick, wrote to staff:
“It has been decided to move The Western Daily Press editorial operation from its current base in Plymouth to Bristol. This enables the business to move forward with its editorial and commercial operations together and based once again in the heart of its circulation area, the West of England.
“The Western Morning News operation will remain in Plymouth and will be largely unaffected by this change.
“Over the next few weeks we will conduct a process of consultation with Western Daily Press staff currently based in Plymouth.
It is anticipated that the process will be completed by the end of September.”
It is not clear what impact the move will have on job numbers in Bristol.