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25 February 2021

MPs Continue To Press Ministers Over Public Notices

MPs have continued to press Ministers over the issue of public notices in local newspapers, raising concerns that removing them from printed local newspapers will leave elderly and vulnerable groups cut out of the democratic process.   

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, tabled a question this week asking the Culture Secretary “what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government on the importance of advertising planning notices in local newspapers to (a) the elderly and vulnerable, (b) other local residents and (b) local media organisations.”

Her intervention follows a string of questions from MPs concerned that removing the notices from local papers would leave some groups unable to find the important information contained within them, and damage local journalism by removing an important revenue stream.  

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said Government understands the role public notices play in local newspapers and was “working closely to ensure that we protect that.”

The NMA is campaigning for public notices to be kept in printed local newspapers after it emerged that both transport and planning notices, the two main categories of public notices, were under threat,  

The NMA has written to Ministers to explain that the local news media sector is leading the way in boosting engagement with public notices with innovations such as the public notices portal and the new public notices publishing guidelines.

The NMA announced the launch of a ground-breaking new industry digital portal. Funded by £1 million from the Google News Initiative, the project will see the creation of a common online portal containing public notices, including planning and traffic regulation orders, published in print by regional and local newspapers across the country.

NMA local members have also agreed to adopt new Public Notices Publishing Guidelines – a set of commitments to better publicise public notices, including regular editorial coverage in print and digital, and clear signposting in paper.

The innovations are designed to boost public engagement with public notices, but most not come at the expense of the requirement for local authorities to advertise public notices in printed titles.