Benson to quit Birmingham Council comms unit in June

The long-serving PR chief at Britain’s largest local authority, Birmingham City Council, is to quit next June.

Head of communications Myra Benson has worked at the council for more than a decade. She said it was her own decision to leave and added, in a statement: ‘I’ve enjoyed my 11 years, but if I don’t move on soon, I probably never will – it’s time for something new.’

Benson said it was likely a recruitment process would start in the new year, as council CEO Lin Homer was keen for a replacement to start by June.

Meanwhile, Benson last month drafted in London-based consultancy Renaissance PR to handle what she said was the first major review of Birmingham’s comms during her tenure.

The best value review will focus on the fortnightly tabloid newspaper the Birmingham Voice, which is distributed to all the city’s households.

Birmingham council is on the verge of completing a shift from a ‘departmental structure’ to one based around five strategic directorates – resources, development, local services, learning/culture and social care/health – while services such as street-cleaning will be devolved to 11 constituencies in April.

The council’s corporate comms division has more than 30 staff, including a centralised press office, with further comms staff scattered across other service departments.

Benson joined the council in 1993 as chief media officer, and was later promoted to head of PR, before becoming head of comms in 1999.

She joined following a two-year stint at the Commission for Racial Equality, where she was head of comms and research.

Birmingham’s comms function was centralised almost three years ago (PRWeek, 25 February 2000).

The council posted a ‘weak’ score, the second-worst category a local authority can receive, in the Comprehensive Performance Assessment ratings one year ago.

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