THE local news media sector has come together to launch an industry digital portal to further promote public notices to communities and enhance local democracy.

Funded by £1m from the Google News Initiative, the project will see the creation of a common online portal containing public notices published in print by regional and local newspapers across the UK.

The project will see public notices surfaced on the main pages of local news websites, starting in The Northern Echo on Thursday.

The aim is to enhance people’s access to and understanding of important information about planning, construction, transport links, roadworks, licensing changes and the like in their local area.

The Online Public Notices Portal will be fully searchable by postcode, type of notice and keyword and, in addition to operating as a standalone site, will operate as a vertical within around 800 local news media websites right across the country.

The portal will deliver notifications for users who have signed up to receive alerts about particular types of planning notices, or notices relating to a specific geographic area.

The local news media sector has also agreed to adopt new Public Notices Publishing Guidelines – a set of commitments to better publicise public notices, including regular editorial coverage in print and digital.

News Media Association chairman Henry Faure Walker said: “This will significantly boost the visibility of public notices by harnessing local news media’s massive online reach and highly trusted relationship with local communities.”