A NEW online portal displaying public notices, backed by the local news media sector, has launched, making it much easier to view important information about your local area.

The Public Notice Portal is backed by members of the News Media Association, with others expected to come on board imminently, further strengthening the coverage of public notices across the UK.

The site now displays more than 10,000 live notices at any given time with an average of 2,500 notices now being added by local publishers every week. The portal has been developed by the local news media industry - including Newsquest, which owns the South Wales Argus, the Free Press Series, the Barry and District News, and the Penarth  Times - with £1 million from the Google News Initiative.

Public notices are surfaced on the main pages of local news websites, further enhancing people’s access to and understanding of important information about planning, construction, transport links, roadworks, and licensing changes in their local area.

The portal is fully searchable by postcode, type of notice, and - in addition to operating as a standalone site - delivers notifications for users who have signed up to receive alerts about particular types of notices, or notices relating to a specific geographic area.

Newsquest chief executive Henry Faure Walker said: “Highly trusted local news media has a critical role to play in ensuring public notices reach as many people in local communities as possible, ensuring the fullest possible scrutiny of the information they contain.

“As a sector, we have invested in the Public Notice Portal to further enhance and strengthen the role of local news media in promoting public notices by leveraging our large digital audiences.”

Media minister Sir John Whittingdale MP said: “Newspapers remain a vital source of trusted information about local government decision making, including through the delivery of public notices.

“The Public Notice Portal is an excellent example of innovation from our local news sector which will support local democracy by boosting online visibility of this essential information.

“Ensuring the activities of all local authorities are recorded in the portal will be key to its success, so I encourage local authorities and local press to work together to bring the full benefits of this tool to people across the UK.”

Last week, in its response to the Culture, Media and Sport Committee’s report into the sustainability of local journalism, the UK Government described the portal as a “welcome innovation” from the local news media sector and pledged to keep public notices in printed local newspapers.

"It is clear that print newspapers still play a role in providing transparent and trusted information to local communities about local government decision making," the response said.

Debbie Weinstein, VP and MD, Google UK & Ireland, added: “The Public Notice Portal is a brilliant example of innovation from the local news media sector, and we are very pleased to have played our part in this success.

“Local news titles are essential in ensuring that people can access important information which will affect their lives and the portal will strengthen this vital democratic role even more.”

Find the portal at https://publicnoticeportal.uk/