There is a threat to local newspapers but you can help us to stop it.

The Welsh Government is creating a law to make changes to council tax and right now there's a public consultation on the proposal.

One relatively small part of the bill would mean local councils would no longer have to publish a notice in the local newspaper when they change the council tax rates. Instead, they could publish them on their own website or elsewhere.

Why is that a problem?

First of all, lots of people still rely on the printed editions of their local newspaper for information and we believe it's still the best way to reach many people, especially the digital excluded, some older people and some people in rural areas.

As many as seven percent of people in Wales don't have access to the internet. And even of those who do, some have digital skills to access information.  

Second, the legal obligation to publish certain things, such as council tax changes, planning applications, road closures and more, in a notice in a newspaper provides much needed income for printed newspapers.

If the council tax changes no longer have to be published in the local newspaper, it's reasonable to assume planning applications, road closures and so on could be next. 

If public notices were removed from local newspapers, quite a few would simply have to stop publishing. That would have grave consequences for communities across Wales, creating a major democratic deficit and lack of accountability for local authorities, health boards and more.

A recent report on the future of public interest journalism from the Wales Public Interest Journalism Working Group (of which I was a member) stated:

The publication of statutory notices in newspapers provides vital information to the community on a wide range of subjects, such as licensing applications, road closures and planning.


At the same time such notices provide a vital revenue stream for news publishers, supporting coverage of national news, politics and current affairs, for example in the Western Mail. It should be noted that some local print titles in Wales, particularly smaller weekly titles, would no longer be viable if public notices were removed.

What can you do to help?

The proposed new law is now out to consultation. You, and anyone in Wales, can take part in the consultation. You can say that you are worried that the change in Clause 20 of the Bill will harm your local newspaper.

The consultation results go to the Local Government and Housing Committee. One of the things they will consider is 'unintended consequences' of the proposed law, which is called the Local Government Finance (Wales) Bill. 

The more people who write expressing their support for local newspapers, the more chance of getting the Bill amended. 

But you need to be quick, as the consultation closes at 5pm on Monday, January 15.

You can take part in the consultation by emailing or by post to Local Government and Housing Committee, Welsh Parliament, Cardiff, CF99 1SN 

Along with your submission, you should provide the following information:

  • Your name and contact details.
  • Whether your evidence is submitted as an individual, or on behalf of an organisation.
  • If you are submitting evidence as an individual, confirmation that you are over 18 years old.
  • If you are under 13 years old, your parent or guardian’s agreement that you can participate (this can be provided via email).
  • Confirmation of whether you would prefer that your name is not published alongside your evidence (names of individuals under 18 years old will not be published).
  • Confirmation of whether you would like the committee to treat any or all of your written evidence as confidential, with reasons for the request.

There are plenty of other things in the Bill too, which plans to make big changes to council tax across Wales. You can read more about the Bill on the Senedd website

Journalists on local newspapers across Wales work hard to keep you informed about what is happening in your community. If you can tell the Welsh Government to change its mind, you can help ensure we can keep working hard. Thank you.