Haringey on the verge of hiring DfT comms chief

Local authority Haringey Council was this week on the verge of appointing Department for Transport comms boss Charles Skinner to take charge of its PR operation.

The North London council is understood to have offered Skinner the post but declined to confirm that the central government PR man is poised to join the authority.

A freelance council spokeswoman said: ‘I have been told that the appointment for this post has not been made at the moment.’ Skinner himself declined to comment.

The council is rebuilding its comms operation following a restructure recommended by consultant Tribal MPC, formally known as Marina Pirotta Communications. Tribal recommended streamlining the department from eight to five staff, which prompted a spat between PROs and council management.

The Advisory Conciliatory and Arbitration Service eventually helped negotiate a deal with PROs, and in the summer the department hired ex-Barnet council comms chief John Seekings as head of media and PR to help head the new department (PRWeek, 13 August).

Among the campaigns currently ongoing at the borough is an ambitious £5m clean-up programme, called ‘Better Haringey’, to improve residents’ quality of lives in a bid to become a ‘top-performing’ borough by 2005.

Although the campaign is focused on the environment, press and PR work is also helping to promote other parts of the programme that cover areas such as housing, social services and education.

Skinner replaced Martin Sixsmith at the DfT (PRWeek, 10 May 2002), who was ousted after the Jo Moore fiasco, when the then transport minister Stephen Byers was advised by his special advisers that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a good opportunity to bury bad news.

PROs in the DfT also declined to comment on Skinner’s future.

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