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Minister pledges to listen over traffic orders row

Transport minister Norman Baker has promised to take into account the impact on local newspapers in deciding whether the press ahead with plans to change the rules on advertising road works.

The government wants to drop the requirement on councils to advertise traffic orders in the local press, saying it would be cheaper to do it online.

But the move has aroused opposition within the industry with estimates saying it could cost local newspapers £20m a year.

Mr Baker has now agreed to meet Newspaper Society representatives to discuss their concerns.

In a letter to NS communications director Lynne Anderson he writes: “I do understand the concerns which have been expressed about the possible effect on the viability of local newspapers this change may have, and those concerns will be taken into account before final decision is taken.”

However he said it should be up to local authorities to decide how to use their ‘scarce’ resources to advertise traffic orders most effectively.

Oppositon among MPs to the proposed changes has been growing, with Rotherham MP Denis MacShane describing it as a “wretched” decision.

In a letter to Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt he said:  ““People can be affected by local traffic changes more than almost any other decision by local government. To say that these decisions are published online is fatuous as no-one reads local government websites unless they are very sad.”

The Woverhampton-based Express & Star has called on its local MPs to join the campaign against the plans.

Editor Adrian Faber said:  “We believe the communities we serve have the right to know about changes and developments in their locality. These proposals are not just a matter of revenues to regional publishers but an issue of public information.

“Local newspapers remain the trusted source of public information for our readers, many of whom will not have access to new media.

“We have asked the MPs for their views and hope they will lend their support by registering with the Department of Transport their concerns about public access to these notices.”


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  • March 1, 2012 at 11:16 am

    NS is all for local government subsidy of the local newspapers. Except, of course, when it is open and voluntary as in the case of council produced newspapers.It’s much better that private companies should get legislated subsidy through council ads.
    Great to see the NS fighting for the rights of the ordinary man in the street, ‘many of whom will not have access to new media’.
    Most councils would prefer to stick things online AND do targeted mail drops around the affected streets. Much cheaper and better for the tax payer, I’d have thought.

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  • March 1, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Any editor wanting to publish traffic orders in the public interest has only to tell his council that he’s willing to run this information editorially free of charge. Problem solved.

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