PUBLIC SECT0R: Dorset restructures after services review

Dorset County Council has restructured its comms function following a review of the authority's services.

Head of comms Sue Hyde has had her remit widened to cover a newly created comms and design team, which will act as a central resource across the council and sit within the corporate services team.

Specialist communicators from the council's directorates have merged into Hyde's expanded division. Liz Tripp, Annie Wheatley and Emma Shields previously served as comms managers for the education, social services and environmental services directorates respectively. They have now moved to the central comms and design team and all report to Hyde.

That division now comprises 20 staff and includes corporate consultation, overseen by David Keddie, e-comms, run by Martin Bottomley, and the design unit, run by Diane Coillie.

Hyde said: 'We hope stronger information campaigns, increased consultation exercises, additional marketing initiatives and clearer corporate branding will go a long way towards answering the relatively low level of public awareness of the role councils play in local communities.'

The changes are the second revamp the comms function has undergone in recent years. In 1999 Hyde hired former BBC Radio Sheffield head of news Daragh Croxson as press and PR manager in a move that marked the end of a ramping up of the council's PR resources from one person to five (PRWeek, 12 Nov, 1999).

Issues facing the council include a major MORI survey of 1,200 local residents on all aspects of the council's services. The results, Hyde said, 'would form the blueprint for comms activity going into 2003.'

Other issues include the budget settlement from central government, the CPA report ranking the council's service standards and, from a tourism viewpoint, making the most of Dorset's newly won World Heritage status.

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