Marcoms head quits City of York for Leeds council

City of York Council marcoms head Helen Edwards has quit, amid an ongoing PR review, to join Leeds City Council in a newly created comms manager role.

Edwards joins Leeds at the end of this month and will lead a ten-strong central team and co-ordinate all departmental PR.

The post was created after a critical two-year review of council PR efforts, details of which were revealed in 2001 (PRWeek, 19 October 2001).

The council’s acting chief officer (executive support) James Rogers previously said that PR was not proactive enough and improvements were needed in internal comms. He also called for a better corporate PR strategy.

Rogers said that Edwards would ‘focus on implementing the results’ of the comms review.

Edwards denied her departure from York was related to a review of PR triggered by the election of the Lib Dems’ Stephen Galloway as council leader in May. She said the council’s executive was now reviewing ‘a range of options’ for her role, which heads a 19-strong comms team.

Galloway was elected on an anti-spin ticket, but after his election told PRWeek that he would make no ‘immediate changes’ to the PR department (PRWeek, 16 May).

However, Edwards, who will leave York on 19 September, confirmed that About York, the council’s quarterly newspaper distributed to 85,000 homes, had been suspended and an autumn edition would not be published.

Edwards denied that her decision to leave was related to the review, saying: ‘The Leeds job is just an opportunity that arose.’

Edwards, who reports to Rogers in her new role, joined York three years ago as head of press and communication and was promoted to head of marcoms in October last year.

Earlier this year she was named the IPR’s Young Professional of the Year.

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