His appointment follows a review by the ruling Liberal Democrat group, which swept to power last year on an ‘anti-spin’ ticket.
The new team will have its annual spend reduced by £74,000 and staff numbers cut from 21 to 18. Aside from salary costs, the savings have also come from the scrapping of quarterly residents’ magazine About York.
Beer said the new system would give greater emphasis to local PR activity and pro-active campaigning: ‘A good system has been developed that will make the function more effective and my priority will be to make sure it works. The team will be smaller but that is through natural wastage. there have been no redundancies.’
About York will be replaced by a quarterly newsletter for residents called Your City, delivered in combination with a local supplement called Your Ward.
A council spokeswoman said two pro-active campaigns included the promotion of fixed-rate penalties for litterbugs and a push to improve take-up of benefits.
TaylorSyms marketing and PR director Simon Taylor carried out the comms review. Taylor also functioned as York’s interim comms chief following the departure of Helen Edwards. She left to become head of comms at Leeds City Council (PRWeek, 5 September 2003).
Taylor said: ‘What the administration has done is to enable us to put a structure in place to deliver the same or more for less, which is something that all public bodies should look to do.’
Beer joined the council as its employee comms adviser four years ago. He was previously deputy head of comms at the now defunct Funding Agency for Schools.