PUBLIC SECTOR: Trawl begins for Newcastle City Council comms head

Newcastle City Council has begun the hunt for its first PR head

after a year of uncertainty.

Following a year-long review, brought about by the departure of head of

communications Jan Hillary last October, the council has this week

launched a search for her replacement.

The role has added responsibility for marketing teams across all

departments and has been re-titled as head of communications and


However, the postholder will still not report directly to CEO Kevin

Lavery, with the reporting line directed through director of strategic

support Doug Johnson.

Since her departure to set up her own consultancy, County Durham-based

Jan Hillary PR, the PR function at Newcastle council has been jointly

headed by senior PRO Trevor Wood, and publication officer Barbara


Wood said: 'With her (Hillary's) departure the council saw it as a good

time to restructure. That process is now complete.'

Hillary had headed PR at the council for 16 years and had previously

worked in a PR capacity for Northern Gas.

The council's comms team includes seven PROs, three publication officers

and the translation and communication support teams.

Since Hillary's departure the council's PR team has been boosted by two

and the council is now looking to recruit one more PRO.

According to Wood, one of the new PR head's priorities will be to help

promote Newcastle and Gateshead's joint bid to be designated official

European Capital of Culture in 2008.

Newcastle and Gateshead faces competition from Cardiff, Belfast,

Birmingham and, most recently, Canterbury (PRWeek, 31 August).

Newcastle City Council is a lead partner of the Newcastle and Gateshead

Initiative, the body co-ordinating the bid.

The Gateshead Millennium Bridge, linking the town with Newcastle, opened

last week.

The £22m structure, which carries foot and cycle paths, is the

first bridge to be built across the River Tyne for 100 years.

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