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 Northcliffe Media plans to cut up to 95 jobs and close or merge a number of the weekly papers it publishes across Essex, Kent and Surrey, as part of proposals to amalgamate subediting in a single centre. The publisher issued a statement this morning saying the move reflected a need to "reduce costs in the current challenging trading environment".

A number of its 14 free newspapers will close, including Total Essex and Focus in West Kent. Free Northcliffe titles in Maidstone and Ashford are under review and face closure.

Northcliffe also publishes 12 paid-for weeklies across the south-east, including the Kent & Sussex Courier series and the Croydon Advertiser series. Northcliffe also said it would merge a number of titles "in several existing markets" to create single hybrid paid/free titles.

These changes, it said, would be similar to the paid-for and free titles it merged in East Grinstead in September to create the East Grinstead Courier and Observer.

The company, which is the regional publishing wing of the Daily Mail and General Trust, notified staff in a series of meetings on Thursday that it was hoping to create an editorial design and production "hub" in Chelmsford, creating 20 jobs, to serve its free papers and paid-for weeklies.