Award Winning Public Notice Portal Hits One Million Users Milestone

The local news media industry’s award-winning Public Notice Portal has hit the milestone of one million users, as new research shows that local news media remains the number one destination for public notices.

Designed to enhance local media’s coverage of public notices in print, the portal has seen steady growth in traffic as users seek out important information about planning, construction, transport links, roadworks, and licensing changes in their local area.

The portal, which hit the milestone of one million users on 31 May, also scooped Digital Initiative of the Year at the Regional Press Awards and has been nominated for the Best Digital Publishing Innovation award at the AOP Digital Publishing Awards which will be held this month.

It is backed by local publishers in membership of the News Media Association having been developed by the local news media industry – including Reach plc which built the website – with funding from the Google News Initiative.

New nationally representative research from OnePoll conducted for the NMA in March found that the Public Notice Portal is taking public notices to younger audiences. Usage of the portal is highest among the 25-34 age group (16 per cent) and 18-24s (10 per cent), compared to the UK average of seven per cent.

The survey also found that local news media in print and digital (41 per cent) remains the number one platform used by the UK public to view public notices, ahead of local authority websites (29 per cent), social media (28 per cent) and printed mailouts (26 per cent).

NMA chief executive Owen Meredith said: “Placing public notices in local news media remains the best way to ensure that everyone can access the important information contained within them in a fair and uniform way.

“The statutory requirement on councils to advertise public notices in printed newspapers ensures that those who are digitally excluded can access the notices.  Meanwhile, the notices also gain significant reach online through the news websites of local papers and the portal, further strengthening the industry’s offering and public engagement.” 

Printed local newspapers remain a vital platform for millions of people to access the notices. Research from BVA BDRC shows that removing public notices from printed local newspapers would see 10 million people, many of whom are in vulnerable or elderly groups, cut off from viewing the notices.

In Wales, where Ministers face opposition to plans to remove the statutory requirement on councils to advertise council tax notices in local papers, the level of digital exclusion in Wales is even higher than in the rest of the UK, with as many as seven per cent of the population, or 170,000 people, not using the internet.