CIPR to discuss unitary row

This year’s CIPR local government conference is to look at the role of PR in council bids for unitary status.

Sargeant: conference speaker
Sargeant: conference speaker

The recent furore surrounding the debate will be among a raft of issues discussed at the event, which takes place in Liverpool from 26-28 September.

In a number of locations where residents were consulted on unitary status this year, councils have been beset with complaints of bias and claims that they failed to adhere to the local government’s publicity code.

In one of the worst spats, North Cornwall District Council has referred publi­city used by Cornwall County Council to bodies including the Audit Commission, the Advertising Standards Agency, the Standards Board for England and the Department for Communities and Local Government.

In a statement released in May, North Cornwall DC’s chair councillor Graham Facks-Martin said material released by the county council was biased in favour of unitary status. He also accused the council of ‘disregarding’ the code of practice and acting in an ‘undemocratic and non-inclusive manner’.

Unitary status gives more power to the county councils to which it is given.

Other issues on the conference agenda include local level communication about national transport initiatives, council reorganisation and crisis communications.

Speakers at the event will include former ITN political editor John Sergeant.

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