Greater London Authority hires communications chief

LONDON - The Greater London Authority has hired Electoral Commission media and PR chief Andrew Nye to boost turnout at the 2004 elections.

Nye, who has been hired until June 2004, will take up the newly created role of GLA elections head of communications in January.

Nye said his first task will be to review the demographics of the capital's electorate with the aim of creating specific campaigns for target groups.

Key groups are expected to include 18- to 24-year-olds, students and ethnic minorities. A budget, to include advertising and direct marketing as well as PR, has yet to be finalised.

Nye said: "London is unique, with a high transient population and a large number of students. I will be looking at how best we can inform them of the electoral process."

Nye said safeguards are in place to avoid criticism that the role's aim is to boost mayor Ken Livingstone's vote.

"There will be a separate team from the assembly and mayoral media teams and I report to the CEO, Anthony Mayer, not the assembly or the mayor," he said.

Communications for the previous mayoral and assembly member elections in 2000 were criticised by the GLA itself for confusing the electorate and not properly explaining what the authority does.

A report to the GLA Elections Committee late last year said: "Voters approached the election for the mayor and the assembly with limited knowledge of how the new institutions operated, compared to the government pre-election public education campaigns in Scotland and Wales."

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