Public sector news in brief

NEWCASTLE: Newcastle City Council has launched a campaign that it hopes will make sure pensioners are aware of and taking advantage of the welfare benefits for which they are eligible. Council comms staff launched a roadshow recently to inform residents about the various benefits after it was discovered that more than £2m of council tax benefit remains unclaimed.

NORTH YORKS: North Yorkshire Police has renewed its contract with DTW for a further year. The agency has already supported its PR and marketing for 18 months.

COI: The Central Office of Information is to publish guidance on communicating with ethnic minorities after it carried out a three-month study that looked at media consumption, the effect of cultural identity and youth culture. One of the most notable recommendations in the guidance is that public sector bodies should establish strong outreach and partnership-working arrangements. A summary of the guidance will be available from 19 April at

WARRINGTON: Warrington Borough Council’s comms team is to launch a responsible drinking campaign in an effort to tackle the binge-drinking culture. A poster campaign will run in local pubs and clubs, and responsible drinking messages will be printed on bar mats and in toilets for both sexes. Also targeting shopkeepers and parents, the campaign will run from July for two months in tandem with a campaign to tackle sales of alcohol to under-age drinkers.

LUTON: Local creative businesses, including comms companies, are set to benefit from a new media centre that has recently opened in Luton. The Hat Factory provides a range of media and arts facilities in the council and Arts Council for England-funded project, including hot desking facilities and meeting rooms.

LANCASTER: A new practical guide to help councils improve their services has praised the achievements of Lancaster City Council’s communications team. In his book New Targets, New Tools, New Rules, author Chris Sellers argues that it was a notable achievement for the council’s communications team to be made Communications Team of the Year in the 2003 Local Government Chronicle Awards. The team was criticised by the Improvement and Development Agency (IdeA) ,which identified ‘severe weaknesses’ in the council’s comms efforts.

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