Morton, who has spent the past two years as chair of the national fire service comms network, FirePRO, has worked in public-sector PR for more than six years.
Prior to his experience in fire-service comms at HFRS, Morton was chief reporter at the Bournemouth Daily Echo, where he worked for more than seven years. He also spent a year as a senior influencer specialist at tech agency Whiteoaks.
Morton paid tribute to his former colleagues at HFRS: "It has been a brilliant six years working in the fire and rescue service, which is home to some of the most creative and committed comms people you can find."
In his new role, which starts next Monday, he will be responsible for all day-to-day corporate comms, media relations, and crisis comms.
Morton has been tasked with developing a more strategic and proactive approach and will lead a team of eight.
He will report in to Melanie Bright, head of corporate comms at Winchester City Council, who commented: "We are transforming the way we engage with our residents and partners, and communications is integral to this."
She added: "James will be instrumental in driving through this transition to a more strategic and proactive service, and helping evolve the team during this exciting period of change."
Morton said: "Moving to a city that has been named the best place to live in the UK is really exciting and it is a great time to be joining the council, with some big changes happening across the organisation and the district."
He added: "The challenge of helping to drive forward the comms function at Winchester is one I am really looking forward to."
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