PUBLIC SECT0R: Luton council to overhaul comms unit

Luton Borough Council is set to overhaul its PR function following a review that recommended 90 changes to how it communicates.

The month-long review has just been completed by public sector specialist agency DTW.

Its recommendations for change include creating a stronger central PR function, to be renamed the corporate communications unit.

The current central team, run by head of marketing and PR Rick Hammond, comprises only three staff.

DTW also recommends the appointment of the council's first head of communications and a raft of other senior posts, including a corporate marketing manager, website editor, press and PR manager and an extra PRO.

Chief executive Darra Singh said all the recommendations are being considered and confirmed that the search for a head of communications would start soon.

He said: 'We hope to start advertising by late April. The other new posts may follow, but how that is done will be up to whoever takes that post.'

DTW director Doug Allen said the cost of implementing the recommended changes is likely to be between £50,000 and £100,000. This will mainly be spent on extra salaries.

Allen said: 'Luton has been fairly good at communicating. It is certainly not a poor performer. What this review recommends is upping the level of and commitment to communication and being more focused.'

Luton is currently involved in a promotional campaign to counter fears of economic decline following the closure this month of Vauxhall's car plant in the town.

The departure of the General Motors subsidiary resulted in 1,900 job losses.

Singh said: 'We need to explain the employment possibilities in the area and the work that is being done in terms of regeneration. It's about creating optimism.'

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