The Newspaper Society has published research backing its resistance to the Government's proposals to end the requirement for local councils to advertise traffic notices in the local press - an important source of income for newspapers.
The NS met with the Transport Minister Norman Baker yesterday (Wednesday) and presented him with new research from GfK NOP showing that local newspapers are the most effective way of informing the public about traffic changes and that local people are concerned about government proposals to abolish the requirement for local authorities to advertise traffic notices in local papers.
The research found that 64 per cent of adults, and 65 per cent of drivers, are concerned about potential changes to the current regulations meaning that such information would no longer need to be published in local newspapers.
The rearch also found that the vast majority of people expect to be made aware of traffic changes through their printed local newspaper and less than three per cent of the population used council websites to find such information.
The NS claims the proposals to remove the statutory obligation for councils to publish Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) in local newspapers pose a dangerous threat to the public’s right to know as councils would rely on their own websites and site notices to advertise traffic orders rather than trusted local newspapers.
According to the research, more than two-thirds of the population (69 per cent) think it is important they are made aware of planned changes to local traffic routes. This is particularly true among drivers (74 per cent) and those who drive to work (82 per cent).
The NS says it shows eight times as many people have read a newspaper in the past week than have looked at their council website (32 million v 4 million adults). Twenty-nine per cent of all adults (and 21 per cent of drivers) haven't accessed the internet at all in the last 12 months meaning that advertising TROs online only would exclude 14 million UK residents, including many poorer members of society.
It says the research shows only 34 per cent of all internet users have visited their local council website in the last 12 months. Local papers are considered more trustworthy and up to date than either local commercial radio or council websites, the research found.Source: Newspaper Society