The London Borough of Lewisham is to take on agency help to promote
its October referendum on whether to have a directly-elected mayor.
Following a competitive pitch, Weber Shandwick Worldwide is understood
to be about to sign a deal with the council. Consolidated Communications
is also understood to have pitched.
The successful agency will work alongside the council's in-house PR
team, headed by head of corporate communications Fiona Nicol, to build
awareness of the referendum and the issues involved.
Communications manager Tony Dikan said: 'We set ourselves a difficult
target of a 40 per cent turnout for the referendum. That is why it is
vital that it receives as much publicity as possible.'
Councillor Dave Sullivan, the current mayor, who was not directly
elected by the entire borough, said: 'There will be a lively campaign to
make people aware of the issues and to encourage them to vote.'
The referendum, which involves all voters being sent a postal ballot,
will take place between 11 and 18 October.
The council was given the go-ahead to change its system of government by
the Local Government Act 2000.
A public consultation exercise was carried out at the start of the year,
which attracted more than 2,000 responses. A majority of 57 per cent
favoured switching to a directly elected mayor and cabinet
Depending on the referendum result, the council's first mayoral election
is expected to take place next May.