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Welsh Government Axes Proposals to Remove Traffic Notices from Local Papers

The Welsh Government has scrapped plans to remove the requirement to publish traffic notices in local newspapers after just 12 per cent of respondents to a public consultation voted in favour of the plans.

Eighty five per cent of respondents voted against the plans which the Welsh Government acknowledged would leave certain groups “disenfranchised.”

Responding to the consultation, road users said that local press was the only way they could keep up to date with changes to roads and said they were not always properly consulted about proposed orders, which could in some instances be a deliberate move by the local authority.

“The Welsh Government also accepts the concerns about the inconsistencies in approach change may bring from authority to authority and the potential difficulties authorities may encounter should they be required to demonstrate due process has been followed,” the Welsh Government said in a summary of responses to the consultation.

“Consequently, on the balance of all responses the Welsh Government accepts the counter arguments that order making authorities should continue to have to place TRO notices in local newspapers for the time being.

“However, it is also of the view that there is potential scope for streamlining the content of TROs in the future while providing additional points of contact for further information. While reaching this conclusion the Welsh Government would still encourage the use of supplementary forms of publicity to maximise coverage.”

The Department of Transport is currently considering responses to a separate consultation over similar proposals for England which have attracted widespread criticism. The Government’s response is expected in the autumn.

Independent research conducted by Gfk NOP was cited in the Welsh Government’s summary. The research’s findings included that 64 per cent of adults were concerned about the plans and just three per cent of the population used council websites to find such information.

More than 90 per cent of responses from Byway and Rights of Way users  to the Welsh Government’s consultation opposed the plans with from members of the group  comments including:  “Reading about the change in newspapers is the only way I find about changes which may affect me locally.” 

Another comment said: “Notification in the press is something we rely on to keep us up to date, on what we can legally drive on. Take this valuable resource of information away from me, and it is going to make my usage very difficult. I need to be in the know of restrictions of use before I arrive at the lanes, not when I get there.”

Another response read: “I often find out about proposed changes to the status of legal roads from the press notifications, not having to notify proposed changes in the press will make it easier for local councils to remove legal byway status to existing routes as less people will be aware of the proposed changes and will not object to these changes being made.

“Our experience is that we do not always get consulted or notified of proposed orders. We believe this is deliberate on the part of the order making authority. The inadequacy of the 1996 regulations led directly to a more robust process arising from new traffic powers given to National Parks by the NERC Act 2006 and in England regulations were made. We believe these procedures should be followed by all traffic authorities rather than left to their discretion.”

The document also quoted from the NS’ submission: “Independent research has consistently demonstrated that local newspapers and their websites are by far the best media channel for public notices such as TROs, local papers are the first place that people look for such notices, and placing them on local authority websites will severely restrict the public's access to them.”

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.