Secretary of State for Local Government, Eric Pickles, today (23 December 2014) invited councils, local newspapers and others to take part in piloting ways of improving the provision of essential information to the public. He called for new technology and innovation to bring municipal statutory notices into the 21st century.
Mr Pickles defended statutory notices as an important way of ensuring that local residents were informed of decisions that affect their property and lives. He has also said that public bodies must do more than provide just ‘an obscure notice’ on the depths of a council website.
The government is asking for interested parties such as councils and local newspapers to look at innovative solutions that will ensure the public get to hear about vital council information such as planning applications in ways that fit with today’s busy lifestyles.
Mr Pickles said:
How we consume information has drastically changed with advances in technology. Statutory notices need to change too. But previously, there has been a sterile debate based on a binary choice of the total retention or total abolition of requirements to publish notices in local newspapers.
Instead, we are inviting councils, newspapers and others to pilot innovative ways of improving statutory notices. We want to see how statutory notices can be better published and marketed through the likes of pooled notices in newspapers, improved procurement, digital advertising and location-specific mobile technology.
We are committed to supporting an independent free press, and to ensuring that local taxpayers are better informed about council decisions that affect their lives.
The pilots will provide evidence about what the public wants to be or should be informed about, how they want to be informed and what works and does not work in meeting the public’s need and will run from March 2015 to the end of August 2015.
Expressions of interest are being invited and should be submitted by the end of 28 January 2015. View an invitation to express an interest in becoming a pilot.