Scottish Government
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Decision on Public Information Notices

Legislation enabling councils to use online advertising as an alternative to publishing notices in newspapers will not be progressed.

If implemented the proposal, first presented by government in 2006, would have allowed local authorities to use a new public information notices portal, save millions of pounds to reinvest in frontline services and enhance local information services.

During an eight-week consultation, Ministers listened to the views of councils, the public, MSPs and the newspaper industry, and have now decided not to proceed with the legislation as the proposals would have had insufficient parliamentary support.

Ministers are now calling on those who opposed the proposed legislation to engage positively on the issue and recognise that Parliament must take a more constructive stance to assist.

The Scottish Government will continue to develop the on-line advertising portal for the public sector.

John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, said:

"The UK Government is imposing the first cut in Scotland's budget since devolution next year and further reductions in spending are inevitable in years to come. Facing that increasingly challenging financial environment, Scotland's councils identified a need to cut spending on public notices, which currently cost around £6 million a year. The purpose of this legislation, which government began work on in 2006, was to give councils the option of using a more effective way of improving communication with the public and deliver increased value for money.

"However, we consulted fully and widely on the issue and it is absolutely right that we have listened and considered our response carefully. As a minority Government it is incumbent on us to build consensus and in this case that has not been possible. Given the strength of views expressed, we have decided not to proceed with the legislation.

"Those who called on us to withdraw this legislation have singularly failed to say how they would cut spending on adverts - given the financial pressures as a result of the Westminster-imposed spending cuts - and enable that money to be directed to real local priorities. That remains a clear objective for the Government and an agenda we will continue to take forward.

"We recognise this decision will be disappointing to councils, who wanted us to take action to help them at a time of spending constraints. We will continue working in partnership with local government and the wider public sector to support the use of the on-line portal to supplement newspaper adverts, and help realise the additional benefits offered by the portal to its users.

"But those who have opposed this move must recognise they have a duty to take a constructive role in creating the means by which local authorities can make economies in the future.

"We will also continue to liaise closely with the newspaper industry to ensure it has a sustainable and successful future."

Public Information Notices (PIN) are announcements that local authorities are legally required to publish. There are two types of Public Information Notices. Statutory Notices give required notice of an intended action, such as road closures, construction, licensing and planning developments. Public Notices inform people of changes to services, such as refuse collection.

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