PUBLIC SECT0R: Westminster hit squad is called in to aid Richmond

Westminster City Council's PR team has been drafted in to overhaul Richmond-upon-Thames Borough Council's comms function.

The year-long deal - understood to be a first in local government - will see Westminster PROs managing Richmond's comms and handling a Best Value review of communications, which will start in June.

This three-month review will be the first activity Westminster PROs will undertake in the deal, which has come under criticism from local Lib Dems at Conservative-controlled Richmond.

Concerns focus on the reported £80,000 cost to Richmond, including £20,000 for the review, and £60,000 for additional management support.

Details of the arrangement include the full-time posting of Westminster senior media officer Cormac Smith at Richmond. Also, Westminster comms head Alex Aiken will spend one day a week working for Richmond, with other PROs drafted across 'as and when necessary', according to Aiken.

Richmond's most senior PRO, communications manager Emma Anderson - who oversees a team that comprises just a senior comms officer and a part-time press officer - will report toAiken.

Aiken said the aim was to boost Richmond's media relations 'at a London level', in addition to assisting in the development of a new magazine for residents and boosting the councils' internal comms.

Discussions between the two councils began following the Comprehensive Performance Assessment - the council league tables published last December - which identified communications as an area in which Richmond should improve.

IPR Local Government Group chair Pat Gaudin welcomed the deal: 'There are already some areas where local government comms networks share best practice. This partnership is one step further'.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in