PUBLIC SECTOR: IDeA slams Enfield 'waste of money' claim

The Improvement Development Agency (IDeA) has hit out at claims that its project to improve councils' PR is a 'waste of money.'

The claims were made last week by the London Borough of Enfield's newly elected Conservative administration, about work being done in the borough under the IDeA-backed Connecting With Communities scheme.

Enfield is one of six councils selected under the project to receive special assistance in improving its PR. Other councils will be helped by a toolkit to launch next month.

IDeA principle comms consultant Pascoe Sawyers said: 'Connecting with Communities is not about "spin

- it's to enable local authorities to improve the way they communicate and engage with residents, staff and strategic partners.

Last week, Enfield Conservative leader Michael Rye pledged to reject recommendations for an increase in the budget and influence of the comms unit (PRWeek, 17 May 2002).

He said he would prefer to see money spent on 'actual services, not telling people lies.' The recommendations were based on research from Connecting with Communities.

Sawyers believes downplaying PR is a mistake the Conservatives will regret.

He said: 'Good or even excellent communication is not a remedy for poor services but the evidence shows residents often have a poor perception of their council and the services they provide simply because the council has failed to communicate what it does effectively.'

The IDeA is the Government agency set up to help councils improve all their services. It is a lead partner in Connecting with Communities, working with the Department of Transport, Local Government & the Regions, and the Local Government Association.

Other partners include MORI and consultants Marina Pirotta Communications and Grant Riches Communication Consultants.

The toolkit will be unveiled at an IDeA conference on 18 June.

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