Falkirk East MSP Cathy Peattie has welcomed a Scottish Government climbdown on its proposal to allow local councils to put public notices solely online.
Cathy said that “to allow local councils to withdraw public notices from local newspapers would have been profoundly undemocratic. It would have excluded many people without internet access, and reduced the visibility of the notices for the rest. Important decisions would then be taken without proper scrutiny. Furthermore, if the loss of revenue damaged the local press, that would also damage local democracy and accountability.”
Cathy started the campaign on the issue in April last year, when she tabled a motion on Local Newspaper Week which expressed extreme concern “about the collateral damage to the democratic process and to the local newspaper industry that would result from the proposed introduction of a publicly funded web portal for the publication of public information notices.”
The campaign gathered strength with meetings and a debate in parliament on January 28th, when MSPs overwhelmingly backed a motion calling on the Scottish Government to withdraw the Local Authority Public Information Notices (Electronic Publication) (Scotland) Order 2010.
Cathy added: “Almost a year on, we have some good news. Even before we get to Local Newspaper Week in May, the Scottish Government has been reminded that local newspapers are an essential part of the democratic process, all year round.”
See https://cathypeattie.wordpress.com/category/media/ for previous press releases on the PIN campaign.
Public Information Notices (PIN) are announcements that local authorities are legally required to publish. There are two types – Statutory Notices such as road closures, construction, licensing and planning developments; and Public Notices of changes to services, such as refuse collection.