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Publishers step up campaign over council notices

Scottish newspaper publishers are stepping up their fight to halt plans to allow councils to stop advertising in the local press.

The devolved government in Edinburgh wants to remove the requirement on local authorities to publish planning applications and public notices in print.

The proposal has already been voted down once in the Scottish Parliament but the SNP-led administration says it will continue to consult on the plan.

Now the Scottish Newspaper Society has published an open letter to Scottish MPs over the iusue in a full-page advert in today’s Scotsman and Edinburgh Evening News .

It states: “On behalf of the Scottish newspaper industry, we are publishing an open letter to express our deep concern at a proposal from the Scottish Government to remove the requirement for important local authority announcements to be publicised in Scottish newspapers.

“We believe this proposal would remove a fundamental part of the democratic process and the public’s right to know.

“The Scottish Government proposal is such that important announcements about the likes of road closures, school closures, planning applications, anti-social behaviour, public finances, gambling licenses, compulsory land purchase and the local environment would not be published in newspapers, but would be listed instead on a Government website.

“Given that nearly ten times as many people in Scotland use newspapers than they do the internet as their main source of information about their local area, we believe this proposal is flawed and will undoubtedly lead to greatly reduced scrutiny and therefore accountability for local government announcements and actions.”

The open letter was signed by 22 publishing groups with interests north of the border. For the full list see below.

Scottish Newspaper Society president Michael Johnston said he anticipated that the advert would run in the majority of Scottish weekly papers this week ahead of the end of the government’s consultation period this Frday.

“The industry believes the move is undemocratic given the lack of public trust in state controlled websites and broadband internet’s poor penetration and even worse take-up in Scotland compared to the much greater reach of newspapers,” he said.

The open letter was also carried in a tabloid size insertion in yesterday’s Scotland on Sunday.

  • Publishing companies signing the open letter were:

    Angus County Press Ltd
    Associated Newspapers Ltd
    Clyde & Forth Press Ltd
    Scottish Daily Record & Sunday Mail Ltd
    DNG Media Johnston (Falkirk) Ltd
    Forth Independent Newspapers Ltd
    Herald & Times Group
    E & R Inglis Ltd
    Orkney Media Group Ltd
    W Peters & Co Ltd
    Scottish Provincial Press Ltd
    The Scotsman Publications Ltd
    The Oban Times Group
    CN Group Ltd
    Stranraer & Wigtownshire Free Press
    The Shetland Times Ltd
    Tweeddale Press Group Ltd
    Scottish & Universal Newspapers Ltd
    Strachan & Livingston Ltd
    Stornoway Gazette Ltd
    News International Newspapers (Scotland) Ltd
    Galloway Gazette Ltd


    Rob (09/02/2010 11:10:21)
    Yeah, it’s all about democracy and has nothing to do with local newspaper profits.
    Presumably none of the “undersigned” have any web presence. What a load of self-serving cobblers.