EDITORIAL: Islington takes a backward leap

Islington Council appears to have been sucked into a timewarp as the newly- elected council turns local government PR into a political football, in a move reminiscent of the late-1980s. Here we have a Lib Dem-run council flying in the face of current local government and central Government thinking on communications, by dismantling an innovative and forward-thinking communications structure put in place by the previous Labour-controlled authority.

Islington Council appears to have been sucked into a timewarp as

the newly- elected council turns local government PR into a political

football, in a move reminiscent of the late-1980s. Here we have a Lib

Dem-run council flying in the face of current local government and

central Government thinking on communications, by dismantling an

innovative and forward-thinking communications structure put in place by

the previous Labour-controlled authority.



It was only in June last year that Islington chief executive Leisha

Fullick brought in Westminster Strategy to provide crisis management

support in the wake of a damning Ofsted report on the borough. The

agency’s role was subsequently expanded as Westminster Strategy was

asked to carry out a communications audit and recommend a communications

structure that would enable the council to provide an immediate response

to criticisms and crisis situations.



Acting on Westminster Strategy’s recommendations, Fullick appointed

former Consolidated Communications Board director Fiona Nicol to the

newly-created role of communications and marketing head. Attracting such

private sector talent was a major achievement at a time when others

councils were still struggling with senior recruitment.



Now, only 11 months later, Islington is undertaking a review with a view

to cutting its PR department by half; although the jury is still out as

to which half this will be and whether any exodus would include

Nicol.



Perhaps most tellingly, the jury is also still out on what actual cost

savings can be achieved by such an exercise.



This is yet another blatant example of an ill-conceived attack on spin,

launched with an eye to the voter. But what does Islington hope to

achieve?



At a time when the Government is placing increased emphasis on opening

channels of communication with customers, Islington says it is looking

for a cheaper option. And at a time when other councils such as

Liverpool and Birmingham are leading the way in terms of creating

coherent branding for councils through the centralisation of

communications and the realignment of corporate communications alongside

customer relations, Islington is moving in the opposite direction by

decentralising and placing responsibility for communicating messages

back in the hands of individual departments.



The only result of this piece of politicking will be to short-change

Islington’s tax-payers in terms of the amount of information they

receive about the borough and to place a greater burden on staff in

other departments who should be concentrating on the services which they

were employed to run.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.