Opinion: Queen's Speech is ideal planning tool

The Queen's Speech may seem dated these days, but it represents the greatest forward-planning tool for local-authority PROs.

This year's - which took place last week - puts local communicators centre-stage as the Government seeks to improve perceptions of ‘security' in the widest sense. Much of this can only be done locally. You can talk about falling national crime rates, more public spending and fresh ideas to unite communities. But the public want visible proof.

From planning reform to regulation of estate agents, ten promised items of legislation will underpin the Government's desire to ‘provide strong, secure and stable communities' - which means local government has to be seen to deliver.

This is an interesting shift from the focus on ‘clean, safe and green' communities set out in last month's Local Government White Paper.

We should all be looking to weave the themes heralded in the legislative programme into our communications planning. The proposed legislation will provide us with the opportunity to showcase our work as local councils.  For example, the promised bill on climate change offers the chance to better promote local recycling; plans to ‘tackle road congestion' provide a platform for a debate on public transport; and the promise of ‘improved arrangements for consumer advocacy' offers councils the opportunity to publicise their trading standards work.

The proposed legislative programme will be making the news and influencing public perceptions over the next year. We should be preparing campaigns to complement these national initiatives. Of course, the devil is in the detail - and the programme has yet to be published - but we should all be prepared for the opportunity to argue the case for localism early and convincingly.

Alex Aiken is head of communications at Westminster City Council

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