Tower Hamlets calls in Stroud for review

The London Borough of Tower Hamlets has drafted in former Oftel director of comms Duncan Stroud as it reviews the structure of its PR function.

The review follows the departure of head of comms Pascoe Sawyers, who has returned to his post of principle comms consultant at the Improvement and Development Agency, having completed a year’s secondment at Tower Hamlets.

Stroud starts at Tower Hamlets on 31 January and will report to Sara Williams, adviser to the chief executive, and will head a 25-strong team during the two-month review.

He will take up the post of interim head of comms when he joins from Surrey County Council, where he is currently interim head of comms managing a 30-strong team.

Williams, who is directing the Tower Hamlets review, said: ‘We are examining how we can strengthen our internal communications and we need to review how the team is structured. But this is not a cost-cutting exercise and there will be the same number of jobs overall after the review.’

There are a number of high-profile initiatives in the borough that Stroud will manage communications around, including the presence of Police Community Support Officers (PCSO), a measure soon to be rolled out across every London borough.

PCSOs were introduced by the Government to provide support for regular police officers. They are employed by the police but do not have the same powers.

Community group Tower Hamlets Partnership, of which the council is a member, gave backing for the scheme in the area.

Stroud said another challenge at Tower Hamlets will be communicating to a diverse community. ‘There is a large mix of ethnic minorities in the borough that requires specialist communications,’ he said.

The council’s weekly newsletter East End Life, which goes out to all of the borough’s 80,000 households, is written in English, Bengali and Somali.

It is the only newspaper printed in Somali in the UK and the only weekly publication produced by a UK council, according to Tower Hamlets commercial development manager Chris Payne.

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