Enfield boosts media work after IDeA report criticism

The London Borough of Enfield's PR unit has put in place a raft of

changes in response to a critical governmental report of its


The report, by the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), slammed

the council for being too wary of the local press and channelling all

media enquiries and PR work through a 'very small team'.

Now, as part of a council-wide review titled 'Future Enfield', a

transformed media relations structure has been created.

The structure includes more press briefings on areas of possible

controversy, regular liaison between council managers and journalists,

and a fortnightly press briefing by council leader Doug Taylor.

The council's publication, Enfield News, is to be revamped in September

to provide, 'more news to engage more people', according to council PRO

Laura Berryman.

She said: 'There have been misunderstandings. They have now been ironed

out and we are encouraging journalists to come in and meet senior


IDeA inspectors, who visited the council last year, did praise the

council's website - www.enfield.gov.uk - in their report.

But on its relationship with local journalists, the report stated: 'The

council's general wariness of the local press has made it reluctant to

engage positively with editors and journalists.

'Opportunities to build and develop a range of relationships with

officers and members are very limited.'

In contrast, the local press was praised by inspectors who said it was

active, balanced and interested in the council's activities.

Meanwhile, staff problems are continuing for the communications


It is still without director of marketing and communications Ashley

Gibbins, who has been absent from work since the first week of June. The

council is tightlipped as to the reason for Gibbins's absence or whether

he will return. Berryman said: 'We cannot comment on this as it is a

confidential matter.'

Gibbins reported directly to council chief executive David Plank.

The council has still not replaced communications unit manager Tino

Hernandez, who left earlier this year to join the Department of Trade

and Industry.

Berryman is now the most senior media relations officer, while marketing

manager Joanna Popadopolous continues to run marketing work.

The borough covers three parliamentary constituencies, including Enfield

Southgate. In 1997 its then MP Michael Portillo was defeated by Labour

candidate and now junior minister Stephen Twigg.

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