News in brief

Environment: English Nature, the rural affairs watchdog, is preparing for a comms rethink following the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) response to the Haskins report into rural services deliveries. Lord Haskins recommended streamlining agencies providing rural services.

Scotland: The Forth Valley office of Scottish Enterprise – the Scottish Executive’s main economic development agency – is joining forces with Stirling and Falkirk councils and companies including Royal Bank of Scotland and BP to sponsor the 2004 Forth Valley Business Awards. The awards, publicity for which began this week, will be presented on 18 March.

Survey: Brighton & Hove City Council’s planning department has sent questionnaires to 1,600 applicants for planning permission and their agents who used the service between April-September 2003 to find out what they thought of the service. The results will be sent to the Government in March to be included in national planning statistics.

Essex: Essex County Council has appointed Quay West Communications to handle its waste management campaign following a six-way pitch. The campaign will encourage Essex residents to take personal responsibility for recycling and sustainable waste management, using a mix of PR and outdoor ads. It starts at the end of January.

Westminster: More than two-thirds (68 per cent) of Westminster residents think the council keeps them very or fairly well-informed about local services, according to research by MORI. But a quarter of respondents told researchers they think they receive limited information about what the council does. MORI surveyed 1,029 residents last year.

Lobbying: Trade minister Mike O’Brien and Britain’s leading distillers have agreed to work more closely in the next year to increase sales by lobbying for a reduction in overseas taxes on whisky and other spirits in key markets. O’Brien met spirits industry representatives last week and pledged to renew government efforts to ease distillers’ access to foreign markets.

Appointment: Public sector specialist PR firm Grant Riches Communication Consultants has appointed Lisa Dimbylow as a senior consultant. Dimbylow has formerly worked at Capita Business Services.

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