Beds names leader of in-house comms arm

Bedfordshire County Council - graded the worst in the country in 2002 - has appointed Suffolk Council corporate comms manager Andy Allsopp to manage a new comms division.

Taking over from Mike Browne, who joined Hammersmith & Fulham Council in April, Allsopp will build a team of five when he arrives in October.

Browne had been contracted from outsourcing company HBS since 2002. His departure prompted the decision to bring comms back in-house after four years, said interim manager Julie Hollings, also a director at agency DTW.

'This will help integrate comms with the rest of the council, and help support councillors and their objectives,' she added.

Hollings will continue to provide interim management until Allsopp's arrival.

The team will comprise a corporate communications officer, charged with the council magazine and internal comms, and three senior communications officers, covering education, social services, environment and waste management.

As assistant director of communications, Allsopp will report to director of cultural change and customer focus Paul Spencer.

'The council has suffered from a very poor image - only 36 per cent of people said they were satisfied with services in 2003 and it still rates as a weak council,' conceded Hollings.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection gave the council's social services department a zero rating in 2004. Last year saw the arrival of new council chief executive Andrea Hill, who is managing the improvement programme 'Transforming Bedfordshire'.

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