Derbyshire Council plans cost-cutting comms operation review under new boss

Derbyshire County Council is seeking external advice on cutting costs in its comms operation following the appointment of Emma Crapper to oversee the function.

Matlock County Hall: Derbyshire Council's base
Matlock County Hall: Derbyshire Council's base

Crapper was promoted earlier this month from HR strategic lead to the new role of director of organisation development and policy, which was created following a shake-up of the council’s senior ranks that it claimed would save £300,000 a year in management costs.

The role puts Crapper in charge of the comms team, the council’s multichannel contact centre Call Derbyshire, and its HR and policy teams.

The comms team formerly reported to the assistant chief executive, until that post was made redundant together with the post of chief executive in November 2017.

The leader of the council, Barry Lewis, described Crapper’s role as "critical in the future success of the council, sharing corporate responsibility for transformational change and strategic policy-making as well as providing expert professional leadership on HR, policy and communications".

Crapper has invited comms consultancies to bid for a £30,000, three-month contract "to undertake a review of communications across the Council to support the delivery of [its] strategic objectives and priorities whilst also achieving substantial budget savings".

The deadline for responses is 3 May and the contract is scheduled to start on 4 June.

The comms team, which amounts to 12 full-time-equivalent posts, is managed by a communications manager. Its annual budget is £790,000, including the cost of a residents’ magazine published three times a year.

The council is seeking to achieve a cut of £12m to its £500m-plus budget this financial year, with similar amounts earmarked over the following three years.

According to its latest budget report it plans to save £420,000 this year by not replacing leavers in several departments, including comms, and "by carrying out restructuring to make the most of its reducing resources".

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: "Successful internal and external communication and engagement is critical to the council’s future. This external review is necessary to ensure that communication services across the council are being deployed most effectively and support the council’s strategic objectives and priorities, while looking to make reductions in council spend on communications and publicity."

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