Kensington prepares for first local authority roster

Kensington and Chelsea Council is to pioneer a PR roster and has budgeted £100,000 a year to spend on selected agencies.

Believed to be the first local authority to compile a roster – mimicking the system used by central government departments and
agencies – the council has told PRWeek it wants to be able to bring in external support at short notice and to cut down on red tape.

In a written statement the council said it desired to 'develop some longer-term relationships with a small number of companies so they can really understand the council's values and aspirations, and from a procurement perspective to allow us to be quicker on our feet'.

The central London authority wants agencies to handle PR, public affairs, event management, corporate identity and branding.

The four-year roster boasts a generous budget of £100,000 a year, but the council has warned it is not obliged to spend anything once the roster is in place.

The move has met with a mixed reaction from the industry. CIPR local government group chairman Robin Treacher praised the idea: 'Not making agencies go through the pre-qualifying questionnaire or detailed proposals each time [the council wants to hire] for a fresh project is an efficient use of resources, both for the agencies and for the council.'

However, Westminster Council head of comms Alex Aiken disagreed.
'It isn't value for money. If people need help they should look to their neighbours, such as when Hertfordshire Council looked to Bedfordshire for press support after the Buncefield depot explosion.'

Agencies on the roster will be briefed to handle issues including a shortage of affordable housing and the planned westwards extension of London's congestion charge zone.

The council is working with Pauffley on corporate identity and the London Communications Agency on a Building Schools for the
Future programme.

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