Criticism prompted �104k spin recruit

SUFFOLK: A highly-critical report on the county’s communications team persuaded chief executive Andrea Hill to fork out �104,000 on a new spin doctor.

As the row over the cost of spin chief Jill Rawlins rumbles on, it has emerged today that a stinging report by Essex County Council communications chief Giles Roca prompted the appointment.

The report says of the department:

n There is an absence of effective leadership

n There is no clear strategy

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n The current structure and make-up of the communications team is confused

n Current perceptions of the team across the rest of Suffolk County Council are poor

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n Senior officers are critical of the support they receive.

Since the publication of the official cost of hiring Mrs Rawlins on Thursday, there has been an exchange of open letters between Green councillor Mark Ereira and cabinet member Colin Noble.

Mr Ereira said he could not understand why the council had not negotiated a lower rate for Mrs Rawlins.

“I do consultancy work, and I know that if you are hired for four or five days you charge a much higher daily rate than if you are hired for 100 days.

“This makes the fee being paid for this consultant seem very extravagant.”

But Mr Noble said it was necessary to pay the fee to shake up the department.

In a reply to Mr Ereira he said: “This council is now among the very best placed to deal with the cuts in funding that all councils face because we have the structures, people and willingness to change in place.

“Where we need further improvement, such as in our communications department, we have the determination to deliver improvements and cut costs - Jill’s expertise will help us achieve these cost savings.”

n Who should be blamed for the county’s communication’s crisis? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstar

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