Plans to remove a legal requirement for council tax notices to be printed in local newspapers were abandoned at the 11th hour.

The Welsh Government abstained in a crunch vote on clause 20 of the local government bill, which has sparked a backlash from the newspaper industry.

Wales’ six daily newspapers joined forces this week, all running front-page stories urging Welsh ministers to “stop this attack on news in our nation”.

Peter Fox proposed the amendment to remove clause 20, which has been criticised by the National Union of Journalists, Society of Editors and the Older People’s Commissioner.

Mr Fox, who represents Monmouth, applauded Rebecca Evans – Wales’ finance minister – for engaging with the opposition on the issue and pausing the proposal.

Peredur Owen Griffiths echoed Mr Fox’s thoughts on engagement, describing discussions with the Welsh Government as productive.

Plaid Cymru’s shadow local government secretary backed the amendment after a time ran out to table an alternative amendment, with a five-year transition period.

He warned clause 20 would have been a retrograde step in terms of rights to access information.

Mr Owen Griffiths added: “We also believe it would deprive local journalism of a vital source of revenue at a time when such media sources are under sustained financial pressure.

“Wales is particularly poorly served by its media environment, caused in part by the retreat of local journalism from our communities in recent years.

“This provision of the bill would undoubtedly compound the issue which brings with it broader detrimental implications for the democratic health of our nation.”

Rebecca Evans, who had previously urged members to resist attempts to remove clause 20, recognised the strength of feeling, saying ministers would abstain in the vote.

The finance minister pointed out that the requirement was put in place in 1992 as she warned that newspapers have been left behind by technology over the past 30 years.

She stressed the Welsh Government has no intention to remove requirements for other public notices to be published in local newspapers.

Senedd members backed Mr Fox’s amendment, 24-2, with 23 abstentions following the stage-three debate on 9 July.