THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT Information Unit (LGiU) have published a new policy report that looks at the current requirements on councils to publish public notices in local newspapers.
According to the LGiU report, councils spend up £67.85m (or an average of £181,000 per authority) every year publishing public notices in local newspapers. The individual cost of publishing a notice can be upwards of three times that for a normal advert, reaching over £20 per column centimetres in some publications.
The report says that web technology allows for simpler and more cost-effective publication of public notices on the internet.
The LGiU is calling for changes to be made in several areas, including the following:
- free up councils to decide, based on their local online and offline ecosystem, where best to place public notices
- councils should work to de-jargon the content of public notices
- hyperlocal websites and traditional publisher should look to work with councils to publish on their websites
HU12 Online welcomes this report by the LGiU and its ongoing work around this issue. We have made a Freedom of Information request to East Riding Council to try to determine the amounts spent by them on publishing public notices.
We believe that the work done by hyperlocal websites can be far more effective in raising the awareness of public notice issues, rather than the mere publication of chunks of tiny-block text in newspapers. An example of this is the public awareness raised, and the debate generated, around planning application issues on the Hedon Blog.
Hyperlocal websites can publish public notices via RSS feeds (see the latest posts and Jobs feeds on this page on the right-hand sidebar or have a look at legal-notice.org in the USA), but hyperlocals could do so much more to raise awareness if just a small percentage of the ‘typical’ £181,000 was ‘invested’ into them via buying web space.
The policy report Public Notices: The case for radical reform (part 1) is available to LGiU members (and non-members at a cost) via their website.