The Newspaper Society is fighting government proposals which could cost the local press industry up to £20m a year
Transport minister Norman Baker wants to remove the requirement on councils to advertise road works or other traffic restrictions in local newspapers.
His department estimates that these adverts cost councils and the Highways Agency around £20m a year, about 60pc of which is picked up by the taxpayer.
However the NS, which represents the local newspaper industry, has described the proposals as “a dangerous threat to the public’s right to know.”
Mr Baker said: ““It is right that residents and businesses are told about changes to their local roads. But councils and the Highways Agency should have the freedom to use their local knowledge to decide how best to do this rather than being forced to spend taxpayers’ money on indiscriminate advertising.
“These changes will save council taxpayers, the Highways Agency and businesses millions of pounds that they will now be able to spend on improving services for local residents.”
The government envisages that most councils would use their own websites to publicise traffic orders in future.
However the NS says the public’s right to know should not be sacrificed in a bid by local authorities to save costs.
Communications director Lynne Anderson said: “These proposals are driven by a desire for local authority cost saving with scant regard for the reason the regulations were established – to ensure that traffic orders are publicised to the widest number of people possible. They represent a serious threat to the public’s right to know.
“The last government recognised the danger of this when it abandoned similar proposals relating to planning notices in 2009. Relying on site notices or council websites to advertise traffic orders would severely restrict the general public’s access to them and their awareness of important information affecting them.”
In 2009, the government abandoned similar proposals relating to planning notices following a fierce campaign by the NS.
A consultation on the new proposals, which apply only to England, opened this week and will close on 23 April.