Newcastle nabs Holt for controversial post

Newcastle City Council has hired Northern Ireland Policing Board director of comms Peter Holt.

He joins the Liberal Democrat council in the beefed-up position of director of communications and marketing following a review of the PR team.

The creation of Holt's £75,000-a-year post was attacked by Labour councillors earlier this year. But the council insisted at the time that the role was necessary to help it compete with other organisations.

'Former head of communications Lynda Fothergill had responsibility for 17 people in press and PR but now that number tops 30,' said a spokesman.

The review strengthened the remit of the top comms post and added responsibility for outside PR consultants. Holt will be charged with lobbying the Government for money to help Newcastle become a centre for science, as well as promoting inward investment.

'Part of the Government's strategy is to invest in science and scientific research and we want to target these funds and position Newcastle as a scientific city,' he said.

Holt is also briefed with promoting the city as a tourist destination – particularly as an alternative to cities such as Dublin and Stockholm.
Fothergill left in February to join South Tyneside Council as head of corporate communications (PRWeek, 10 December 2004). 

Holt, who has been at the Northern Ireland Policing Board for 15 months, will report to Newcastle chief executive Ian Stratford.

Holt was previously Newham Primary Care Trust head of comms and City of London Police head of corporate communications.

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