PUBLIC SECT0R: Wakefield searches for first comms head

Troubled City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council is on the hunt for its first corporate communications manager as it attempts to revamp its PR.

The move follows damning criticism of communications in last December's Comprehensive Performance Assessment and also acts on recommendations called for in a review of communications by the Improvement and Development Agency and consultancy MPC last autumn.

Assistant CEO Steve Stewart, who the corporate communications manager will report to, said the new corporate comms head will be responsible for implementing internal and external communications strategies.

This includes an 'engagement framework' which will look at consultation, stakeholder relations and communications in projects such as the New Deal for Communities.

He added; 'I also want this person to have a corporate client role for technology work. We have enough techie people here, I want it to be looked at from a comms point of view.'

Wakefield currently has a five-strong comms team, headed by corporate, press and PR officer Brenda Haywood.

In the CPA report, which ranked the council as one of the weakest in the country, consultation was seen as particularly poor. The report said that 'there was no clear evidence to indicate that consultation had been used to identify clear priorities for the corporate plan and to drive service planning'.

The report also said that in attempts to improve, high levels of objectives were set, however 'there is no clarity on how these will be delivered or what outcomes are envisaged'.

Stewart said that was not the case now. 'There is the managerial leadership in place and we have the corporate capacity the council didn't have before.'

Stewart was appointed in January as part of a newly created top tier of management. He also has responsibility for the council's community strategy, which is due to be in place next month.

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