Pilots launched for statutory notice innovation

The government has invited councils and local newspapers to take part in pilots for new ways of publishing statutory notices.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has launched the initiative, calling for new technology to help bring such notices – including planning and highways announcements – up to date.

He said that public bodies must not just bury the notices away within an obscure page on their websites.

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.”

He suggested that notices could be better publicised through pooled notices in newspapers, improved procurement, digital advertising and location-specific mobile technology.

The pilots will provide evidence about what the public wants to be informed about and what methods help satisfy their needs.

They will run from March until August – expressions of interest are being invited by 28 January.

The pilots are being launched six months after Pickles originally announced that he intended to run them.

In 2012, the Local Government Information Unit estimated that the total annual cost for councils to place statutory notices in the local press was £67.85m.

A survey it carried out found that three-quarters of councils indicated they would prefer to publish notices online only.

Colin Marrs

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