PUBLIC SECTOR: Herts County Council revamps comms

Hertfordshire County Council is near to completing a full-scale revamp of its communications function.

Cabinet members are set to rubber stamp the final changes at a meeting today (Friday).

The revamp follows a Best Value review started last year by head of corporate comms James Odling-Smee and completed last December.

The review concluded that the central PR team was too weak and there was a confusing system of departmental PR teams, all on different pay and career structures. The review also said that online efforts had to improve.

Changes include a bolstering of the central PR team from three to six.

It will still work alongside departmental teams.

Expected to be approved by cabinet is a new pay and career structure, based on the IPR's Continuous Professional Development scheme.

Odling-Smee said: 'We will move rapidly once its gone to committee and hope the structure will be in place by 1 April. We want all the staff involved in this area to be on the same grade career scheme. This way there's a clearer structure and staff can gradually gain competencies.'

Odling-Smee added that online efforts, still co-ordinated jointly by IT and PR teams, have already improved with a more interactive website, which is achieving 10,000 responses a year.

'The new structure enables us to react quicker and be more strategic,'Odling-Smee added.

The council's strategic management board and the Conservative administration group have already approved the changes.

Odling-Smee, who reports to chief executive Bill Ogley, joined Herts in April last year replacing Georgina Stanton, now PR chief at Essex County Council. London Borough of Brent head of comms So Lin Jeffery was assisting Odling-Smee with the revamp on a secondment basis. She has now returned to Brent.

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