Councils to court fresh faces

Council comms heads already have a raft of public affairs events planned to woo the incoming administration, post-election.

Westminster Abbey: drinks with the new Government
Westminster Abbey: drinks with the new Government

Bristol City Council and Westminster City Council have events planned at the House of Commons and Westminster Abbey respectively, with the aim of building ties with the new breed of civil servants, MPs and ministers.

Bristol head of comms and marketing Peter Holt said: 'We'll be ramping up activity again after being quiet during purdah. We have an evening event with three neighbouring authorities for key Westminster stakeholders in June.'

Holt's comms team is also making 'contingency plans' depending on the outcome of the local elections by meeting potential new councillors.

Meanwhile, Westminster director of comms Alex Aiken is planning an event that will focus on the theme of localism, while Essex County Council head of comms Giles Roca is arranging induction days for new MPs that will cover topics including: how does the council work; what are the issues they need to be aware of in relation to their constituency and where can we help them and where can they help us.

However, not all councils are planning so far ahead. Haringey head of comms and consultations Charles Skinner said any plans would be determined by the new administration: 'It is not a question of keeping plans vague, but one of formulating plans once the next administration has agreed priorities.'

HOW I SEE IT

Giles Roca Head of comms, Essex County Council

Local government needs to be thinking and planning now about how it engages with the new government, whatever its composition. The key task is to influence and shape policy of the incoming government.

We now have sight of the three main party manifestos, which provides a clear starting point. Much has been done already by authorities to influence this process, which partly explains the lack of major surprises and the generally positive stance struck by each party.

However, we all know that what appears in a manifesto is often a long way from the final product, often for very good reasons. The sector needs to push for clarity on those areas that are still unclear.

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