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Monmouthshire Council’s head of communications joins Pembrokeshire County Council

FOLLOWING a review of communications at Pembrokeshire County Council one of the team involved has joined the authority on secondment.

Monmouthshire Council’s head of communications , engagement and marketing, Abby Barton, was part of the communications peer challenge team that reviewed the council in December and from this month will be on secondment.

She will be working with Pembrokeshire Council for 40 per cent of her time until the end of the calendar year with her role aiming to “help take forward the communications peer challenge recommendations.”

Darren Thomas, head of infrastructure, said previously that she would work two days a week with the authority “not sitting here as a member of staff and giving reports” but so her experience can be used across officers and teams to ensure “momentum to the pace of work.”

A peer challenge is “improvement focussed and tailored to meet individual council’s needs” to add value to performance and add experience.

Also on the team which discussed Pembrokeshire were Local Government Association (LGA) associate Paul Masterman, Devon County Councillor Claire Wright, LGA head of communications improvement support Matt Nicholls and LGA peer challenge manager Chris Bowron.

The team found that a “recurring theme” was that communications had improved significantly during the covid-19 crisis and there was a need for a more strategic approach.

Short term recommendations include keeping a cross-council team of communication professionals in place to push interim priorities, develop an interim “core script of key messages” while a communications strategy is worked on, develop a protocol for timely information sharing with councillors and a protocol to improve links with town and community councils.

A Pembrokeshire County Council spokesman said: “Abby Barton has joined Pembrokeshire County Council two days a week to help take forward the communications peer challenge recommendations.

“Such arrangements are commonplace between other public sector bodies and are encouraged by Welsh Government – we have recently seconded staff part-time to both Ceredigion and Carmarthen local authorities.

“Pembrokeshire County Council is paying Monmouthshire County Council at cost for Abby Barton’s time – local authorities are not permitted to make profit from seconding staff to other public bodies.”

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