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Birmingham council names new communications director

Birmingham council names new communications director

🕔07.Jun 2016

The latest person to be given the task of portraying Birmingham city council in a better light and improving its communications record has been named.

Eleri Roberts, head of campaigns with Westminster council in London, is the council’s new assistant director for communications and will take up her post later in the summer.

The job carries a salary in the region of £70,000-£80,000.

A spokesperson for the council said Ms Roberts had “a wealth of experience” in media relations and has worked for over 15 years “in high-profile corporate and political environments”.

She is National Secretary of LGcomms – the trade body representing local government communication professionals – and was previously Head of External Communications for Essex County Council.

During her time at both Westminster and Essex Councils Ms Roberts implemented integrated communications campaigns, oversaw transformational restructures to ensure value for money and handled media issues.

Educated at Bournemouth University, Ms Roberts began her working life as an account manager at London-based public relations consultants Kinross and Render.

She said:

I am really looking forward to joining the council. Birmingham is a city that has a fantastic story to tell and I am excited to be part of that.

Birmingham city council strategic director for change and support services, Angela Probert, added:

We are delighted to welcome Eleri to Birmingham City Council. Her experience and vision for how we will work with our partners to promote our city made her the standout candidate for the position.

Ms Roberts will follow in the footsteps of Canadian Debra Davis, the last person to fill an assistant director for communications role at the council. Before Ms Davis, the task fell to Myra Benson who was director of communications during Sir Albert Bore’s first period of council leadership from 1999 to 2004.

The council’s poor communications record was highlighted in the critical Kerslake Review. The report said:

The narrative within Birmingham and the council needs to become more positive. Birmingham City Council too often sees itself as a victim. Whilst the financial and other challenges are considerable and must be tackled, the public and businesses are calling for a more positive vision.

The need for better strategic communications was also stressed by the Birmingham Independent Improvement Panel, the Government-appointed body charged with making sure the council delivers the Kerslake governance reforms.

A peer review by the Local Government Association uncovered inter-departmental feuds, poor management and a historic disregard by senior officials for a service which was lacking in leadership and strategic vision.

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