Cumbria hires its first head of comms

Cumbria County Council has appointed Paul Inglefield, currently head of performance and organisational development at Adur District Council, as its first head of communications and information.

In its most recent report, the Audit Commission described Cumbria’s performance as ‘fair’, but said public satisfaction with its service was ‘comparatively low’, with social care and environment services needing attention. Overall, the council has ‘failed to make improvements in a consistent and sustained manner’, it said.

Inglefield was not available for comment, but Cumbria media manager Brian Howell explained that Inglefield’s post had been created as part of a broader review of senior management structures in the council.

‘We have developed new comms and human resources policies with a lot of emphasis on developing the longer term strategic role of the council. The politicians decided they needed someone to provide a strategic overview, rather than being driven by the issues of the day,’ he said.

Inglefield will join in September, reporting to deputy CEO Mike Siegal. As well as overseeing a nine-strong PR team dealing with comms and media enquiries, Inglefield’s remit includes developing the council’s approach to e-government and freedom of information issues. On this he is expected to work closely with head of IT Alan Cook.

Best known for the Lake District, Cumbria was hard hit by the foot-and-mouth outbreak of 2001. Howell said: ‘The foot-and-mouth crisis showed that tourism and agriculture are interdependent.’

During his time at Adur, Inglefield has been part of a council that is among examples of best practice being submitted later this month in an online toolkit from the Improvement Development Agency’s Connecting with Communities project (PRWeek, 11 July).

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