Conference to bring local and central government communicators together

Plans for the first ever local and national government comms conference point to the 'door being thrown open' between the two, a top public sector PR figure has claimed.

Alex Aiken: his transfer from local to central government encouraged collaboration, said Cormac Smith
Alex Aiken: his transfer from local to central government encouraged collaboration, said Cormac Smith

The Government Communication Network (GCN) and LGcommunications, which represents local government comms teams, are planning to draw in hundreds of communicators from both sides for the event next spring.

The initiative follows senior comms figures from both local and central government holding regular meetings and collaborating on conferences this year.

Cormac Smith, chairman of LGcommunications, said the transfer of Alex Aiken at the start of this year from Westminster City Council to his new role as executive director of government comms was a key trigger for change.

‘Without a doubt the past six months has seen the door between local and central government in the field of communication thrown open wider than ever before,’ said Smith.

‘There is far less money across local government and in councils than before and we need to find more effective and efficient ways of doing things. This is a part of that.’

Aiken and other central government comms figures took part in the annual LGcommunications conference in Cardiff in May. They included head of government comms policy and capability Sean Larkins, BIS director of comms Russell Grossman and DCLG director of comms George Eykyn.

In turn Smith was a keynote speaker at a series of GCN events labelled Towards Exceptional Government Communications between 28 June and 22 July.

Larkins said: ‘The Government Communication Network and LGcommunications both share an ambition to engage more effectively with the public. There are real opportunities for us to collaborate – not just in national and local government, but also emergency and health services, for example – to ensure that UK public communications are world class.

‘Working more closely on professional development, sharing skills and best practice at conferences and events, and co-authoring guidance are just some of the ways in which we can work better together to deliver effective and efficient communication.’

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