Welham joins Bucks in March to become its first head of communications and consultation. He will take over the responsibilities of the council’s last PR chief, corporate communications manager Mike McCabe who quit last year to join the London Borough of Islington as assistant director of customer focus, communications and consultation.
But in addition Welham will take on a newly created brief to co-ordinate consultation efforts centrally for the first time. Consultation is currently handled on a departmental basis.
As well as looking to raise the profile of the authority nationally, a particular priority will be to handle communications surrounding central government plans to reorganise local government.
There are indications that this could result in the scrapping of county councils.
‘This is an important time for county councils and communications will be vital,’ Welham stressed.
He leaves Sheffield after just under two years with the council.
Welham joined as the first head of marketing and communications, a role that was created to reflect an increased emphasis on marketing of the city, particularly to visitors and investors (PRWeek, 5 April 2002).
During his time at Sheffield, Welham headed a team of 76 staff, which as well as communications included staff at the council’s residents’ drop in centre, First Point.
A decision has not yet been made on whether Welham, who is a former chairman of the Institute of Public Relations Local Government group, will be replaced directly or when a search for his successor will be launched.
At Buckinghamshire he will inherit a 14-strong team, which was formed after a restructure carried out by McCabe during his two and a half years at the council.
Before joining Sheffield Welham spent three years heading communications at Reading Council. Earlier in his career he
also spent a three-year stint as corporate affairs manager with Nottingham City Council.