The publisher of the country's biggest regional newspaper, the Wolverhampton Express & Star, has announced plans to cut up to 50 jobs.

The Midlands News Association, which has begun a 30-day consultation with staff, said in a statement that it hoped to make as many voluntary redundancies as possible, but could not rule out compulsory redundancies.

Today's announcement follows news of 95 job cuts – 10 per cent of the workforce – across the Express & Star titles in April.

MNA sought voluntary redundancies then, but only 41 members of staff came forward: 26 at the Express & Star, where 60 were needed; and 15 at the Shropshire Star, where 30 were needed – leaving 54 places unfilled.

Managing director Alan Harris said today: "It is very disappointing that we have had to make this very difficult decision but 2011 has been an extremely challenging trading year and 2012 is not looking any better."

As well as the Express & Star and Shropshire Star, MNA publishes the Chronicle series in Wolverhampton and Shropshire, including the Shrewsbury Chronicle and Telford and Bridgenorth Journals.

MNA was unable to give any further information about where the cuts will be made, and how many will be editorial roles.

Lawrence Shaw from the National Union of Journalists said that cuts were "short-sighted". Shaw added the NUJ was closely monitoring the situation while the publisher sought voluntary redundancies and would take action if the publisher announced compulsory redundancies.

The most recent ABC figures, for the first six months of 2011, show that sales of the Express & Star fell 7.4 per cent to 113.174 and sales of the Shropshire star fell 8.7 per cent to 55,606.

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