User login

Traffic Orders Advertising Proposals Pose New Threat to Public Right to Know

Proposals to remove the statutory obligation for councils to publish Traffic Regulation Orders in local newspapers pose a dangerous new threat to the public’s right to know, the NS said today (Thursday).

Announced by Transport Minister Norman Baker on Monday, the plans would severely restrict the general public’s access to important information affecting their daily lives, the NS said, as councils would rely on their own websites and site notices to advertise traffic orders rather than trusted local newspapers.  

The NS believes that the public’s right to know should not be sacrificed in a bid by local authorities to save costs and the new Department for Transport proposals would represent a dangerous precedent to that effect.

Lynne Anderson, NS communications and marketing director, 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 acknowledging that members of the public and community groups relied on local newspapers for public notices and that alternative arrangements could not readily be put in place.

That decision followed a fierce campaign by the NS and the local press industry, joined by members of the public, which highlighted evidence of the reliance of many sections of the public on local papers to get important information about their local authority.

A consultation, which applies to England, on the new proposals opened this week and will close on 23 April this year. The Welsh Assembly has already embarked upon a similar consultation.

The NS is the voice of Britain’s local media, the UK’s most trusted medium. It represents 1,100 newspapers, 1,700 websites and other print, digital and broadcast channels.