Take Three Councils: Local authorities take different approaches to dealing with the cutbacks

THE BLACKBURN WITH DARWEN APPROACH: PARTNERSHIP

In June, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and the local NHS trust merged their comms departments to save £100,000.

The model is now being followed by other councils including Northamptonshire, which plans to work with the local primary care trust and the police force, and Brighton & Hove, which wishes to create a 'comms hub' for all the public sector bodies.

It is uncertain whether the councils will choose a federated approach - only partial integration - or a consolidated approach with a single team.

THE WESTMINSTER APPROACH: AGENCY

Westminster Council has pioneered the sale of comms services to other public bodies, particularly councils. Its clients have included the London boroughs of Newham and Harrow.

The comms departments at Essex Council and Brighton & Hove Council have now started offering services to public and even private sector bodies.

Northamptonshire Council and Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council are considering moving to the agency model, but combined with the partnership model.

THE BRENT COUNCIL APPROACH: INTERNAL CONSOLIDATION

Brent Council is expanding the role of its director of comms to include customer engagement. Her comms skills are expected to improve customer contact and make savings across both areas.

At Thurrock Council, interim head of comms Phil McCusker is exploring the idea of a merged policy and comms role.

Internal consolidation involves redundancies. Havering Council expects two jobs to go as its officers become multi-skilled external relations officers covering media, the web and publications.

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