The size of a council's communications function is a poor basis for
judging its ability to communicate, according to Government research to
be published next year.
The study of 14 councils' communications departments is being conducted
by pollsters Mori for the Department of Transport, Local Government and
the Regions, under that department's junior minister, Nick
It is being carried out in conjunction with the Local Government
Association, the Improvement and Development Agency and the Audit
Sources at Mori compiling the list of councils whose teams will be
analysed, said it was already becoming clear that 'there is little link
between size of a communications team and ability to function well'.
Mori director of social research Ben Page said: 'We are investigating
all 14 in great detail and trying to understand common factors in good
communications. It's already plain that you need a basic team of staff,
but that over and above a certain bare minimum - say, five people -
there is very little correlation between expenditure and
Marina Pirotta, founder of MPC - one of two public sector firms that, at
the end of the process will be paid by the DTLR to advise the poorly
communicating councils - said that often vast sums of money are wasted
on ineffective communications technologies.
Representatives of the combined bodies this week agreed the final list
of authorities to be assessed. They comprise eight that are thought to
set 'a good example' and six that, in the words of one source close to
the process, 'face major challenges'.
Camden Council in London, Birmingham and Poole in Dorset are thought to
be among the 14 selected for assessment, but no names were released from
the list of underperforming councils.
The assessments will be used as case studies in a communication toolkit
to be put out for consultation early next year. A final draft will be
published at the LGA conference in July.