Haringey nets Barnet PRO to rejig comms

Haringey council has called in Barnet borough council’s acting comms chief John Seekings to rebuild its PR function following a high-profile walkout by Haringey PROs earlier this year.

Seekings takes up the post of head of media and PR on 16 August, replacing corporate comms manager Nicky Fulford, who quit for the National Probation Service.

Fulford was the only permanent staffer at Haringey’s press office, which is currently managed by consultancy Tribal MPC.

Seekings will manage a four-strong media team staffed by freelances and will set about recruiting a permanent PR team. He will oversee media relations and internal communications, with a major PR push to improve access to services for local people.

A head of comms will also be recruited in the autumn, to whom Seekings will report. The post is presently being filled on an interim basis by Tribal MPC director James Flynn, who stepped into the post after the departure of Julie Hollings, who quit in October last year (PRWeek, 31 October 2003).

The council found itself locked in a spat in February after it informed its then-eight-strong comms team of its intentions to streamline the department to five posts, on the recommendation of Tribal MPC.

All but one of the team snubbed the council’s request for PROs to reapply for the positions in the trimmed down team and were consequently locked out of their offices. At the time, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear branded the comms department’s restructure as ‘disgraceful’. But the fallout was settled by the Advisory Conciliatory and Arbitration Service (ACAS) in June when staff agreed to a payoff.

As acting comms director at Barnet, Seekings managed all comms. He was previously comms officer and deputy director of the council’s comms unit. He stepped into the position of acting director after Gale Scott Spicer left in April.

When Seekings leaves his post, comms manager Oliver Burman will become acting head of comms and Barnet council will start the hunt for a permanent head of comms in September.

Meanwhile, Haringey council staff at Hornsey Town Hall are to relocate to its central offices in Wood Green.

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