South Tyneside poaches Newcastle comms chief

South Tyneside Council has poached the PR chief at neighbouring Newcastle City Council, Lynda Fothergill, after Darlington Borough Council’s Steve Jones dramatically reneged on an offer to become its comms chief.

Jones had accepted an offer to join South Tyneside in the newly created post of head of corporate comms (PRWeek, 5 November) but has opted to remain as head of comms at Darlington, a position he has held since 1995.

Explaining his u-turn, Jones said: ‘[Darlington] made me an offer I couldn’t refuse.’

Fothergill’s exit leaves Newcastle hunting a head of comms, responsible for a 17-strong team, which includes press officers and staff in publications, administration, advertising, marketing, and translation and interpretation services for the city’s ethnic minority groups who do not speak English as their first language.

The new postholder’s biggest challenge will be to continue to promote Newcastle in the UK and abroad, and to promote it as a cultural centre, said Fothergill, who helped lead the city’s failed European Capital of Culture 2008 bid.

Her successor will report to the council’s assistant CEO, Sheena Ramsey.

At South Tyneside, Fothergill will devise a corporate comms strategy. ‘It wants to bring a new confidence to the council, concentrating on the area’s regeneration efforts,’ she said.

South Tyneside has suffered industrial decline since the 1960s, causing mass unemployment. Its main focus is to attract new businesses and one of Fothergill’s objectives is to help the council woo civil-service jobs to the region. She joins in the new year.

‘Bringing jobs to the area is the big issue for the council. Economic regeneration is the key driver for sustaining a better standard of life,’ she said.

At South Tyneside, Fothergill will lead a team of 23 staff in PR, media relations and web and electronic publishing.

She was head of comms at Newcastle for three years.

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