Scottish plan to allow councils to cease press ads abandoned

Public notices will continue to be published in local and regional newspapers in Scotland after ministers dropped plans to shift advertising to the internet.

Scottish finance secretary, John Swinney, said yesterday that opposition to the plan aimed at saving councils around £4m each year by removing their obligation to place notices in the press had proved too great.

The move was welcomed by the Scottish Newspaper Society, which highlighted how the decision reflected a recent vote against the proposal taken during a debate in the Scottish Parliament.

Jim Raeburn, director of the Scottish Newspaper Society, said: ‘It was gratifying that all four opposition parties made clear that taking public notices out of newspapers would undermine a fundamental part of the democratic process.”

Aberdeen’s The Press and Journal reported today that despite the victory forcing councils to publish public notices in newspapers, the Scottish Government and councils still planned to push ahead with the public notice portal to ‘build the evidence base’for a change in legislation.

However, it highlighted that of the 141 responses received in the public consultation on the public notice plan, 117 were against publishing notices solely online and 24 in favour.

‘The real reason, and only reason, for this proposal was to save money with little regard for the public’s right to know,’Raeburn added.

‘I have to question the Scottish Government’s justification for saying it will continue to spend taxpayers’ money in developing the online advertising portal for the public sector.”

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