United Utilities recruits TfL's Parkes for top role

The head lobbyist at Transport for London is joining United Utilities as head of government affairs.

Will Parkes moves to the water and electricity group at the end of April. He spent five years at TfL, most recently as head of government and stakeholder relations. At United Utilities he will report to director of comms Gaynor Kenyon.

The company operates mainly in the North-West, employs around 17,000 staff and has about three million customers.

Parkes will lobby for a government crackdown on customers who do not pay their water and electricity bills. United Utilities is also calling for changes in legis­lation to make it easier for water and electricity firms to recover customer debt.

Parkes said it was an ‘interesting time to be joining the sector'. One of his first tasks will be working on United Utilities' environment policies.

Parkes joined TfL in 2001, initially working in the press office. He became its most senior lobbyist when director of PA Sandy Walkington left last year (PRWeek, 10 March 2006).

It is yet to be decided if TfL will recruit externally for Parkes' replacement. TfL currently has a three-strong team overseeing its PA function. It comprises Claire McCarthy, a former special adviser to Northern Ireland and Wales Secretary Peter Hain; Jake Sumner, who previously worked for Camden Council; and Jamie O'Hara, who was promoted from senior press officer last year.

TfL recently unveiled an eight-agency roster that will provide external comms support over the next four years (PRWeek, 2 March). Three agencies - APCO, Bell Pottinger and LLM Communications - were hired for PA work, while a further five agencies were chosen for consumer and corporate briefs.

Parkes replaces James Sheward, who left last year to become head of public affairs at The Carbon Trust.

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