Public Sector: Browne to leave Bedfordshire for Hammersmith

Hammersmith & Fulham London Borough Council has hired Bedfordshire County Council PR chief Mike Browne as head of comms. Hammersmith is striving to maintain its 'excellent' Comprehensive Performance Assessment rating.

Browne moves from one of the worst-performing councils in the UK to one of the best; he arrived at Bedfordshire in 2002 when the local authority was rated 'poor' and 'worst county council in the country' by the Audit Commission.

The council moved up the scale to 'weak' last year and is undergoing an extensive reform programme, led by recently appointed CEO Andrea Hill.

At Bedfordshire, Browne was employed by outsourcing company HBS - he filled the head of comms role in a partnership between the council and HBS.

At Hammersmith, Browne reports to assistant chief executive Peter Savage.

He will take control of a 16-strong comms team, which was enlarged by one member of staff following a comms review by consultant Tribal MPC last year (PRWeek, 29 October 2004).

The departure of head of comms Carol McMahon in December 2003 prompted the review, which recommended improving the council's online presence and centralising comms by moving staff from council departments into a single team.

Tribal also recommended the creation of a corporate comms strategy, which Browne will write. The council is looking for an additional internal comms officer.

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