Ex-Lego PRO Thomas lands top Suffolk job

Suffolk County Council has bolstered its PR operation by appointing Francis Thomas, a former senior PR man at retailer Boots and toy giant Lego, as head of communications.

Thomas, who joined the council this week, has more than 20 years’ experience across public and private sectors, most recently as a freelance consultant.

His most recent client was the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, where he reviewed its comms function.

Thomas also held the role of senior director of global media affairs at Lego until May this year.

At Suffolk, Thomas is responsible for nine comms staff, including the specialist posts of children’s services media manager, environment and transport media manager and public protection media manager.

Responsibility for internal comms lies with the council’s Go Suffolk department, which deals with staff training and publications.

Thomas said his biggest challenge would be improving the way what the council is and does is communicated to residents. He added: ‘Local government is a growing part of our lives, but most people know nothing about what local government does for them.

‘When you look at the turnout for local elections it shows how people do not understand how relevant local government is.’

Thomas said the job appealed to him because of the council’s joint venture with Mid Suffolk District Council and BT, Customer Service Direct, set up earlier this year as a one-stop-shop to improve customer services.

Thomas said: ‘This portal is innovative in terms of service delivery. Suffolk is also moving from its traditional agricultural routes to a more modern economy. The venture with BT is a good indicator of that.’

Reporting to council CEO Mike More, Thomas takes over from acting head of comms Peter Tempest, the council’s assistant chief executive, who covered the post from April. The comms team was formerly run by Anne Bailey.

Thomas kicked off his PR career with British Rail 20 years ago before he joined Boots, where he became group media relations manager. He was head of financial media relations until last year, when he moved to Lego.

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