Whilst pondering the ramblings of Mr Pickles in the DCLG Select Committee a thought occurred to me which could lead to us saving tens of millions of pounds. Let me ask you a question – “How much does your council spend on statutory notices?” Well that wasn’t a good start was it? Not knowing how much you spend is acceptable – no-one knows. Not knowing what they are is definitely NOT acceptable!
Statutory notices are the little adverts which we spend a fortune on but nobody notices at all. If we want to close a street, vary a no parking area, licence a restaurant, licence a sex shop, undertake major planning work or allow changes to a listed building we advertise in the back of the local rag. Who sees them? No-one! What value do we get for the money we spend? None at all.
The statutory notice system was designed for a time when there were no mass communications. The system we use has changed little since Victorian times when the local paper was the only way to get information out to people
Let’s take how we really do things in the real world. Let’s say we are going to close a road. We:
- Send a leaflet round the area affected
- Send out press releases to all media
- Put it on our council website and ask our relevant partners to do likewise
- Notify organisations like the emergency services and taxi companies
- Put big signs up well before hand so that locals, at least, can prepare different journeys.
We do little of that because we legally have to – we do it because it makes sense. We have to spend the money on statutory notices – that doesn’t make sense.
So my proposal is simple. Each council that completes a comprehensive information strategy which details how it deals better with the types of issues outlined here than by way of statutory notice should be allowed to dispense with the statutory notice system altogether. That way we can either do more good publicity or save a few bob which currently just goes to support an inefficient private sector.
I’m asking the LGA to do a survey on this subject to all councils in England and Wales so that we can go to Eric and the Welsh Assembly and ask to be released from this crass waste of time and money.