Islington recruits McCabe to customer focus position

The London Borough of Islington has appointed Buckinghamshire County Council corporate communications manager Mike McCabe to its top PR role.

McCabe will join in January in the role of assistant director of customer focus, communications and consultation. The post was vacated when Kate Roe left in September to join City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council as head of comms (PRWeek, 22 August).

McCabe described Islington’s three-strong comms unit as a ‘tight team doing a big job’, but was reluctant to comment further on his plans.

He will report to director of customer focus Richard Hill, and will also liaise with leader Steve Hitchins and chief executive Helen Bailey.

Earlier this year the council drafted in Marina Pirotta Communications on a project to advise on reputation management and external comms (PRWeek, 18 April).

This followed criticism by the Audit Commission in its Comprehensive Performance Assessment report, published last December, which gave Islington a ‘poor’ rating – the worst an authority can receive.

McCabe said: ‘The scores have been on the low side, but from what I’ve seen this is a council going one way – up’.

Hitchens said that Islington had embarked on ‘an ambitious improvement programme’ and that McCabe had taken the ‘the key job of letting our residents and the wider audience know about our real achievements’.

McCabe said he expected a search for his replacement at Buckinghamshire to start within weeks.

Since joining Buckinghamshire in January 2001 (PRWeek, 12 January 2001), McCabe has overseen a PR restructure during which his team has grown to 14-strong.

Prior to Buckinghamshire, McCabe was head of comms at Chester City Council for two-and-a-half years, which followed a six-year stint at Gloucester City Council as comms officer.

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