Around seventy jobs are set to be shed at two prominent Midlands evening newspaper titles and associated weeklies, it has been revealed.

The news was broken yesterday to staff at the Wolverhamptonbased Express & Star, the Shrop-shire Star and employees at a raft of around 20 sister papers.

Publisher The Midland News Association announced the move as part of "a package of cost saving measures aimed at combating poor trading conditions".

The company said it had suffered a significant decline in advertising revenues - particularly situations vacant - and was being forced to take action to cut overheads.

It said: "The MNA is launching a voluntary redundancy scheme open to all staff. The aim is to reduce the current labour force by around 70 jobs.

"If not enough people come forward voluntarily then compulsory redundancy may have to be considered."

Mr Alan Harris, managing director of the Express & Star, said: "Until now the company had attempted to absorb the impact of reduced income in the hope that trading conditions would improve.

"However, this had not been the case and there seems to be no sign of things getting better in the immediate future. "

Mr Harris said the MNA had no alternative other than to take action to protect the future of the business, with forecasts pointing to the coming year being a particularly difficult one.

The move would not impact on the editorial integrity of the newspapers, he said.

Mr Harris said a 30 day consultation period was under way.