Campaign to keep readers in the know

THE South Yorkshire Times is campaigning to put the brakes on plans to remove the requirement for traffic orders to be published in local newspapers.

The Department of Transport’s proposal will mean local councils no longer have to place public notices on changes to road regulations in the pages and on the websites of papers like the SYT.

This includes details of road closures, diversions and other disruptions.

The SYT has now asked our local MPs - Labour leader Ed Miliband, Caroline Flint and John Healey - to lend their support to our campaign to stop the proposals.

In a letter to us, Mr Healey, Labour MP for Wentworth and Dearne, said: “I hadn’t been aware of this proposal but will seek out the Department of Transport’s consultation and look at making a formal submission.

“As you may recall, a similar idea - removing the requirement to publicise planning applications in local newspapers - came up when I was local government minister.

“I took the decision to keep the requirement.”

Mr Healey has agreed to set up a meeting with the SYT to discuss the issue further.

Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale has already tabled an early day motion in Parliament calling for a re-think and stated that ‘no other medium has the same reach as local press’.

Sir Alan has also written to Transport Secretary Justine Greening and says he will try to raise the issue on the floor of the House of Commons because it is so important to have ‘an active and vibrant local media’.

The Newspaper Society has also held meetings with ministers and says the proposals will lead to less transparent local government.

The Department for Transport believes councils across the country could save £20m a year through the proposal.

A consultation on the plans will run until April 23.

The proposals are to let authorities use ‘whatever ways they consider appropriate’ such as Facebook, Twitter and their own websites.

There are 22 MPs in total who have signed the early day motion tabled by Sir Meale.