STRAIGHT TALK: What cost Government savings?

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PLANS announced to cut back on information given to the public about road closures and roadworks could cause more traffic misery for the long-suffering South Holland motorists.

What with the saga of the delayed opening of the new road to Peterborough and the continual problems at Woolram Wygate, we haven’t exactly had the rub of the green.

But cost-cutting proposals by the Department of Transport could make things a whole lot worse.

Our friends in central government are proposing to remove the need for councils to place public notices in local newspapers such as the Spalding Guardian to inform residents where roadworks will affect traffic.

The Department has started consultation to allow local authorities, the Highways Agency, utilities companies and other businesses such as property developers to advertise Traffic Regulation Orders elsewhere, such as on their own websites.

It claims this is a deregulatory measure, to cut red tape and save costs. Yes, it will save them costs, but at what cost? Are we all going to study Lincolnshire County Council or Highways Agency websites before setting out on our journeys?

Are we going to check our mobile phones for tweets from said authorities before we jump in the car? Would we even do this if we had the technology? Many of our elderly relatives don’t.

The most appropriate and effective place for publicising traffic regulation orders is in the local press, which plays a crucial role in informing the community of these matters which affect readers’ daily lives.

Then there’s our broader role of helping enforce local democracy and holding local authorities to account.

The Department of Transport’s proposal is driven entirely by cost saving with little regard for the future of publicising the notices to the greatest number of people.

Placing them on council/government websites will severely restrict the general public’s access to them and their awareness of information affecting them.

The local press nationally is facing extremely challenging economic conditions and we depend upon advertising revenue to underpin our journalistic and other services for the community.

This proposal to ‘save’ £20m of revenue from this industry will just compound the pressure.

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