Newspaper notices cost row rekindled

Plans to scrap planning notices in newspapers would lead to more secretive local government, newspaper owners have warned.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has called for rules which require councils to advertise planning notices in local newspapers to be scrapped.

But Newspaper Society communications director Lynne Anderson argued that removing the requirement would see grass roots issues decided without proper consultation and debate.

Earlier this year, the government chose to continue with advertising certain applications in local newspapers (Planning, 15 January, p1).

The LGA says the adverts will cost councils £200 million over the next five years. It claimed that the average council has to pay £105,000 per year to print the notices while one large authority last year paid out £608,000.

"It is important that these statutory notices are accessible to as many people as possible," said chairwoman Baroness Eaton. "But councils can reach people for a fraction of the cost by putting the information online or distributing it directly."

Anderson responded: "Members of the public say they rely on notices in newspapers to learn about applications in their area."

The DCLG said it does not intend to remove the requirement in the short term. "However, it's important the money produces something that works," said a spokesman. "We have asked the society to work with us on publicity issues and welcome input from other parties."

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