The cost of transparency (3 comments)

The proposed private members bill widening the rights of journalists to inspect council accounts is a common-sense move.

Under existing rules a journalist would have to be local ratepayer to inspect council accounts in the month-long window that exists. MP Wendy Morton’s bill would ensure that all journalists have this right regardless of whether they live in the area or not. Few people could really argue with this.

Yet it raises broader questions around the public’s right to information and the ability of public bodies to respond.

The fact is that in many councils now a significant proportion of council officer time is increasingly being spent providing information rather than doing the job.

Most local authorities will tell you that in the past ten years the number of FOI requests have trebled.

Do we really want our planning officers spending a huge amount of time digging out old information rather than processing planning applications on time?

Posted on 24th March 2017

Your City, Your say

In 2015 we launched our ‘Your City. Your plan’ campaign to ascertain what our residents thought of the plan of sites identified for development for housing, green space, retail and employment across the whole of the city for the next 12 years. This was the culmination of ten years work developing our Core Strategy, and linked back to the previous 2015 Site Allocations consultation entitled ‘Your City, Your say’; as well as contributing towards our ambition to be the ‘best city’.

Posted on 14th March 2017

Swindon Borough Council – Putting Our Man on the Moon

You’ve heard the story of JFK asking the NASA janitor what he’s doing - rather than say “sweeping the floor” the janitor replies he’s working towards putting a man on the moon.
At Swindon Borough Council we had an issue…staff didn’t relate to putting a man on the moon - they were working hard in their jobs, but weren’t engaged in a “big picture” of achieving a vision.

Using insight from our staff survey, and from talking to people, we developed a strategy to launch and embed our Vision for Swindon. We needed to capture hearts and minds so created a campaign around Swindon’s proud railway heritage.


Posted on 9th March 2017

What’s your return per day?

This is not to be confused with “what’s your day rate?”.

It’s a question that may be being asked of your comms team or of you by people making decisions about future spending plans at your council. The longer version is: “Given what we spend on communications, what are we getting for our money that is useful and which we could not in these stringent times afford to live without?”.

The key with all difficult questions that may be asked of you is to think about the answer before it’s asked.

Posted on 16th February 2017

What I would have told a younger me


We’re just one month into 2017 and we’re already seen tough challenges for communicators following on from the post truth world of 2016. Seismic changes in the political landscape in the UK and US, disengagement with experts, even more technological advances in how we consume information have made us rethink how we do our job. Professional communicators across all sectors in both this country and beyond are working to understand this change in relationships with our publics, the moral compass organisations need to be guided by and what truths we need to make sure are heard by those in charge.

Posted on 6th February 2017

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