PUBLIC SECT0R: PROs and journalists lobby for council comms reform

LG Communications and the Society of Editors are considering a joint lobbying campaign calling for reform of the new political structures in councils.

The move follows damning criticism in a survey of PROs and journalists of the Government's modernisation drive that introduced Cabinet-style leadership structures five years ago.

Both groups want reform to make council politics easier for residents to understand.

In the survey, unveiled at LG Communications' annual conference in Nottingham, PROs said the new system meant they were now 'wrestling with unwieldy process, jargon and unhappy backbenchers'. And journalists have concerns over decisions being taken in secret.

LG Communications' newly appointed chairman Martin Watkins and Society of Editors director Bob Satchwell confirmed that both bodies would now be looking to work together to explore ways to lobby the Government for change.

Satchwell said: 'Given the amount of public money local government spends on PR, they should be ensuring they are giving the public value for money by allowing PR professionals to communicate properly.'

The survey, carried out by Grant Riches Communications Consultants partner Carol Grant, revealed that 70 per cent of PROs and three quarters of journalists thought modernisation had not achieved the aim of making the democratic process easier to understand.

The increase in jargon was seen as a major factor by PROs. According to Grant, one PR officer said: 'We're wrestling with incommunicable names.

How do you introduce someone as chair of the community, information and support services overview and scrutiny committee!'

LG Communications secretary Michael Baker said he has been informed by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister that further consultation over political structures was likely, but no timetable had yet been set.

Leader, p8.

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