‘Government plans could mean more secrecy and surprises from authorities’

PROPOSALS which would mean authorities no longer have to advertise roadworks in their local newspaper have been criticised by MP Stephen Phillips.

Currently, authorities such as the Highways Agency are obliged to advertise planned work in a local paper to ensure people are notified of what is going on in their street.

However, if the new government proposals go ahead it would mean authorities need only put up a flyer or advertise work on their website.

It is claimed the change would save the Department for Transport £20 million a year.

Mr Phillips fears the new system would prevent some from accessing vital information.

He said: “I don’t think it’s a very good idea. In a patch like mine, many elderly people get their information only from the local press – they don’t have internet access and would not necessarily search for the information which local authorities currently have to publish anyway.

“That said, I do think that the formulaic nature of these advertisements should be changed so that there is simply a clear statement of potential road closures and so forth, without all the legal bumph that currently goes into the notice which are published.”

However, Grantham MP Nick Boles believes authorities should be free to advertise however they see fit.

He said: “While I understand why local authorities and the highways agency might think it is a good idea to advertise in local newspapers, I don’t think they should be forced to.

“They should be free to judge whether a local newspaper advertisement is the best way to make people aware of proposals.

“The truth is, the world is changing, with community websites, while flyers could also be put through doors.

“I don’t think it is the job of government to tell authorities how to do that. It should be up to the individual organisation to decide.”

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