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18 February 2021

NMA: Local Media Leading The Way In Improving Engagement With Public Notices

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 News Media Association has said.

In a response to the Future of Transport: rural strategy consultation, the NMA highlighted the new initiatives which are part of the industry’s drive to improve public engagement with public notices.

“The NMA and our members share the Government’s desire to see greater levels of innovation when it comes to the future of transport, and news publishers are leading the way in this regard,” the NMA said.

Last month, 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.

Responding to the consultation, the NMA said: “As an industry, we would welcome the opportunity to work with the Government and local authorities to harness these innovations and our expertise at facilitating large levels of public engagement to help achieve the Consultation’s goal to harness ‘community spirit and understand how it can facilitate innovation in transport services in and for rural communities.’

“However, it is critical that innovations which the industry is currently pursuing in the digital space do not come at the expense of the requirement for local authorities to advertise public notices in printed newspapers, as to do so would be at odds with the public sector equality duty, given digital exclusion is particularly acute among older demographics.”

The NMA is campaigning for public notices to be kept in printed local newspapers, writing most recently to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to highlight the industry’s innovations in this area.  

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.”