Centro’s seven-year PR deal under review

Centro, the West Midlands Passenger Transport Executive, is reviewing its £850,000 annual contract for PR support, threatening incumbent Citigate Birmingham’s hold on the account.

The executive is made up of the local authorities governing Birmingham, Sandwell, Dudley, Walsall, Wolverhampton, Solihull and Coventry and is charged with promoting and developing public transport.

Centro wants to appoint one or more agencies for a seven-year contract with an assessment review every two years. Citigate has worked on the account since September 2002.

The comms brief will cover all forms of transport, with provisions for looking at freight.

Centro head of communications Conrad Jones said: ‘The body is made up of so many authorities because we wanted to have a co-ordinated approach for the West Midlands. It is definitely unique in the metropolitan areas, and it is important in terms of communicating transport issues and development to have a co-ordinated approach.’

Communications activity required includes a significant amount of public affairs work as Centro aims to secure ‘adequate’ government funds for the region.

Jones added: ‘The big issue is congestion. There is serious road and rail congestion because of our position at the hub of the UK transport network. If there are problems on the M5 or M6, there is a knock-on effect on other areas.’

The contract also covers media relations, internal comms, marketing, publications and consultation with key stakeholders, including the business community, retailers and residents.

The PR activity and campaigning is intended to promote better use of the transport network.

According to the Confederation of British Industry, congestion problems in the West Midlands cost businesses £2.6m every year.

While Centro’s activities and services are funded by its seven supporting local authorities, Central Trains services are funded by central government and the motorway network is maintained by the Highways Agency.

Centro employs nearly 300 transport professionals and specialists.

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