Wakefield selects Roe for new head of comms role

City of Wakefield Metropolitan District Council has appointed Kate Roe as its head of communications, a role created following criticism by the Audit Commission of the way the council is run.

Roe joins next month from the London Borough of Islington – another authority criticised by the Audit Commission in its Comprehensive Performance Assessment reports of all unitary authorities (PRWeek, 18 April).

Assistant chief executive Steve Stewart, to whom Roe will report, said: ‘We have recruited Kate to spearhead the PR changes. She has the qualities needed and had a similar role at Islington.’ Stewart and CEO John Foster have been revamping the council’s PR since the damning report.

Roe, who is assistant director of customer focus at Islington, will lead a team of 30, including the 15-strong print and design team that has recently been incorporated into PR.

‘Wakefield has not been very good at communicating with its citizens, and Kate will help change this and the ways that we do it, using latest technology where appropriate to make us more effective communicators,’ added Stewart.

‘I have been given a wide brief that includes all internal and external communications, new media and corporate relationships,’ said Roe.

She added she may adopt some of the changes she made at Islington. Roe was responsible for revamping the resident’s newsletter and bolstering internal comms.

At Wakefield, she will also be responsible for consultation, stakeholder relations and communications in projects such as the New Deal for Communities.

The Audit Commission report, published last December, gave Islington council a ‘poor’ rating – the worst an authority can receive. The council is now reviewing its PR strategy, with support from Marina Pirotta Communications.

‘The report was about the council as a whole, not just communications,’ said Roe.

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