PUBLIC SECT0R: Middlesborough Council examines HBS performance

Middlesborough Council's relationship with Hyder Business Services - the private firm that manages its PR function - is to come under scrutiny in a communications audit which launched this week.

This is the first time the council has undertaken an audit of the function since appointing HBS in November 2000 to run services, also including property management and HR, on a ten-year contract worth £260m.

Doug Allan, director of DTW, which is handling the two-month review, said the aim was to highlight improvements in the way the council communicates and examine whether having a private firm running the services is the best system.

He added that the relationship between the council's communications function and its high-profile elected mayor, Ray Mallon, will also be investigated.

The council's communications function is run by comms manager Mike Clark, who heads a three-strong PR team.

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