Lewisham aims to end jinx with 13 new staff

The London Borough of Lewisham is attempting to end the recruitment jinx surrounding its communications department with the creation of 13 new communications posts and a renewed attempt at hiring a head of corporate communications to lead the new team.

The London Borough of Lewisham is attempting to end the recruitment

jinx surrounding its communications department with the creation of 13

new communications posts and a renewed attempt at hiring a head of

corporate communications to lead the new team.



After redefining the top communications job last year, the council has

so far struggled to attract the high-calibre PR professional it seeks to

head up the role, failing first of all to attract suitable applicants

and then, earlier this year blocking the appointment of one prospective

candidate (PR Week, 28 January).



Since the departure of Mark Robinson, the last senior communications

boss at the council who left in December 1998, Paul Richards, a local

government consultant at public affairs agency Chelgate, has been on

secondment as consultant head of communications at the council.



This new recruitment drive is the final part of a restructuring plan

devised by Richards to upgrade the council’s communications. Under the

plans, the council hopes to see a new corporate communications head

oversee a team which will eventually be 17strong, covering press and PR,

marketing, publications and new media.



Communications manager Adrian Wardle,who currently manages a team of

three, will take day-to-day control of a department of 16 broken down

into four teams covering marketing, PR and new media, and publications

with two support roles. Wardle will report to the incoming head of

PR.



According to Dave Sullivan, mayor for Lewisham, the appointments are a

clear sign of the growing strategic importance of communications within

the council.



’Council communications is now a vital part of local democracy. We are

investing in excellent PR because it helps us deliver the local services

people want. For too long public sector PR has been the poor relation of

private sector PR - not any longer.’



Richards will remain in the post at Lewisham until June at least, by

which time the council hopes to have a new communications head in

position.



The executive’s inability to find a full-time head of corporate

communications typifies the problem faced increasingly not just by

London boroughs, but a wide-ranging recruitment crisis faced by a number

of councils around the UK.



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