Access concerns raised over proposed local government act changes

THE state government might be trying to cut red tape for councils with its proposed changes to the Local Government Act, but the move is more likely to widen the gulf between local governments and the communities they serve.

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Instead of having a legal obligation to run printed notices in local newspapers about vacant senior staff positions, legal issues and proposals to sell land, councils will be able to choose which communication streams they use, if the changes are adopted.

Whether they deserve it or not, many councils are magnets for complaints because many issues they deal with strike at the heart of their community.

The changes are far from being a done deal but, if it goes ahead, each council will be able to make a final decision on how it will get important information to its ratepayers.

Removing print notices would be a backward step for the relationship between council and ratepayers.

While the Port News readily acknowledges that this view is also in our best interest, our research, as one with a foot in both the newspaper and digital world, tells us that many people still look to the newspaper, rather than go online, for their local news.

If people have easy access to important information from council, they are likely to trust local government more.

A council serves a community and should first and foremost have the interests of that community at heart.

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