PUBLIC SECT0R: Enfield opens up to comms opportunities

The London Borough of Enfield's PR-sceptic Conservative administration is softening its hard line on comms.

It has emerged that leader councillor Michael Rye is now supporting Enfield's involvement in the Governmentbacked Connecting With Communities project, despite early reservations.

Shortly after taking the reins at Enfield he described the project, which is offering the council assistance with its PR, as 'a waste of money'.

Interim PR chief Angela O'Connor, who is quitting the council next month to become HR director at the Crown Prosecution Service, confirmed that talks to persuade the new administration of the benefits of the project had been successful.

Councillor Rye declined to comment as PRWeek went to press.

A council insider added that since Rye's comments last month, which included saying it was 'better to spend money on actual services, not telling people lies' (PRWeek, 17 May), officers have noticed a general thawing in his frosty opinion of PR.

The insider said: 'I think they are realising that good PR not spin is something that the public wants. The public wants to know what the council is doing.'

The apparent U-turn could not have come at a better time for the council's comms team as it has now put forward proposals for an extra PR spend.

The proposals, developed with support from the Connecting with Communities project, include the creation of a comms head post and the recruitment of an extra PRO.

Also being proposed is a change in direction for the council's marketing team with more emphasis on corporate branding.

A decision by the administration on the proposals is likely to follow the publishing of a Best Value report on communications next month.

Earlier indications are that this will also recommend strengthening corporate communications.

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