Licence backlash prompts council notices re-think

COMPLAINTS over lack of information have led to a council re-think on the way notices are released.

How the public notice appeared in the Shoreham Herald on November 6

Residents in Shoreham were furious to find out about plans for a large-scale music festival at Shoreham Airport ‘by word of mouth’.

They felt Adur District Council should have made public notices more visible on site and said they found out ‘by chance’ only days before the deadline for comments.

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Licensing officer Simon Jones said the applicant, SJM Ltd, had acted properly and satisfied the legal requirements.

However, the backlash from residents meant Adur and Worthing councils were now looking at changing the way applications are made public in the future, for example through social media.

Mr Jones was speaking at the licensing committee meeting last Wednesday and afterwards, Neil Hopkins, head of communications, expanded on the plans.

“We are always striving to improve our communications,” he said. “In terms of licensing applications specifically, we already exceed the required statutory minimum by putting application details on our website.

“However, as part of a wider customer-focussed review, we’re looking at all other methods of improving how we communicate with residents and businesses throughout the Adur and Worthing area, across all areas of the councils’ business.”

A number of options are currently being evaluated, to see which will be most effective, both in terms of cost and for the widest reach into the community.

Mr Hopkins said: “The councils have been using social media for some time now, and one of the opportunities we have will be to investigate how our Twitter, Facebook and other corporate social media channels can best be harnessed to increase access into the full range of the councils’ work.

“Using social media for statutory notices isn’t something that we have done a huge amount of in the past, but something which we may wish to harness in the future.

“We are also considering how we can use our website more effectively to raise the profile of statutory notices and other important decision-related documents, making sure that our communities and customers can get what they want, when they want it and in a format convenient to them.”