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News and Comment November 2018

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1 November - Public Notices - Read by nobody?

The Public Notices published in yesterday’s News Shopper reveal that Bexley Council is extending its attack upon motorists. There will be slightly fewer parking spaces available - or times further restricted - around Abbey Wood and Bexleyheath stations and a few other places. This of course is not news, most Councils attack motorists as a matter of policy. What might be news is that I actually went to the trouble of entering my registration details into the News Shopper’s website and navigated to Page 53.

A year or two ago reading the News Shopper would be the first thing I would do after getting out of bed on a Wednesday morning and later that day grab the paper copy which would come tumbling through the letter box week after week.

Then the Shopper went badly down hill publishing little but froth and Council press releases. Bit by bit I gave up looking and the paper copy would sometimes hit the recycling unread. Then, around a year ago, the paper copy stopped coming. Occasionally I would look at the paper’s website but the moment my pointer accidentally strayed from the main content and the page was replaced by an advert I gave up. No second chances from me.

A couple of weeks ago I asked where my paper copy had gone and was told that it had gone the same way as everyone else’s. No one gets a copy delivered any more. You get yourself into town to a pick up point or you go without.

Most people go without.

So what is the point of Public Notices? Bexley Council pays a princely sum to have them published each week because the law compels them to do so. There have been several cases in Council where, usually it is Deputy Director Toni Ainge, someone claims that the consultative processes were entirely satisfactory because the required notices had appeared in the back end of the Shopper.

It’s not satisfactory but the law is behind the times and there is no easy answer.

In recent months, with funding from the BBC, the News Shopper has become very much better and with Tom Bull as their Democracy Reporter it is rapidly heading back to Linda Piper standards.

There are five news reports in this week’s issue which are directly related to Bexley Council meetings, things that should appear on Bonkers and four of them have but not always as comprehensively. Keep it up Tom so that I don’t have to.

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