Audit Commission to lose two senior PROs

The Audit Commission is to lose two of its most senior communicators, it has emerged this week.

Head of press Ruth Davison is to leave the spending watchdog to join Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Strategic Health Authority as director of comms and public involvement.

Also this week it emerged that Jennifer Tankard, who took up the newly created role of head of communications (co-ordination) to handle strategic comms work earlier this year, will in September move to the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) to become its first head of communications.

Davison, who was reluctant to talk about her new role before a planned announcement to the regional press next week, leaves after three years with the Commission. During this time she brought the previously outsourced press office in-house.

At Bucks and Herts she will report directly to newly appointed CEO John De Braux, who also joins in September.

The comms and public involvement director role has been without a permanent postholder since the departure of Hywel Jarman, who joined Cambridgeshire Constabulary earlier this year (PRWeek, 30 January). The role had been covered in the interim by Lesley Mcleod.

Tankard’s role has been created following the IDeA’s difficulty recruiting to the vacant assistant executive director of marketing and communications role. The post will be split, with corporate marketing manger Jayne Oxley taking the head of marketing role on an interim basis.

Communications was previously led on a part-time basis by associate

director of communications Marina Pirotta, who has stepped down (PRWeek 13 June).

Tankard said the new role seemed a natural progression. While at the Audit Commission she handled PR surrounding the Comprehensive Performance Assessment, which created league tables of all council services for the first time. One of the IDeA’s roles is to help councils to address problems raised through the CPA.

Tankard said a priority will be to target rural councils. Many of these are district councils that are being assessed over the next two years. This week, six councils in West Sussex were the first to have their results announced.

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