Scottish ministers are under intense pressure to drop plans to allow councils to shift all their public notices online, after opposition parties warned it could destroy the local newspaper industry and damage local democracy.
The Scottish Labour party is expected to win a vote in the Scottish parliament today opposing proposals to lift the legal duty on local councils and other public bodies to publish statutory and public notices in the press.
The measure is expected to save £6m for local authorities, which are facing
swingeing budget cuts and searching for savings across their services. Scotland's 32 local councils have already shifted a large majority of their job adverts onto a central website, cutting the total number of job adverts placed in newspapers by 20%. Newspaper publishers and the National Union of Journalists argue this contributed to more than 120 editorial job losses last year in Scotland.
The Scottish affairs select committee has criticised the plans, and cited industry estimates that public notices – which include warnings of road works, planning notices and changes to rubbish collections – were worth £10m to the newspaper industry, which is struggling for survival.