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Embrace new technology, Pickles tells local press

Councils need to work together with the newspaper industry to make statutory notices such as planning applications and road closures more transparent, communities secretary Eric Pickles has said.

Mr Pickles reaffirmed his view that public notices should continue to be displayed in independent local media rather than on council-run websites or newspapers.

But he said that the local press needed to “embrace new technology” in order to help raise public awareness of the notices.

He wants the industry and local authorities to work together to find innovative new ways of keeping the public informed.

Mr Pickles said statutory notices were an important way of ensuring that local residents were informed of decisions that affected their property and lives.

Statutory notices are worth an estimated £20m a year to the local press industry, but the Local Government Association, which represents town halls, either wants them abolished or replaced with notices on council websites.

However Mr Pickles criticised that as a “sterile debate” and said advertising in council run newspapers was “not a viable alternative.”

He said:  “Newspapers need to embrace new technology to survive.  But they should not face unfair competition from council newspapers.

“And 21st Century independent media offer councils the chance to reach out, inform and engage – an alternative to the depths of obscurity in a council website or lavatory without a light.

“I want councils to work with newspaper industry to look at new ways that we can improve statutory notice and better inform the public.

“Digital advertising, social media, location-specific mobile phone technology, pooling statutory notices so they’re not in nine-point font at the back of the newspaper but front up with  web links in which to find out more.”

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  • July 11, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Any local newspaper reporter who isn’t heading straight for the public notices page on press day in search of a story isn’t doing their job properly…

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