Argyll and Bute’s press office has been left bereft of reputation and senior staff. The remaining rump has been rudderless and incapable – most evidently so in the disastrous handling of the return to prominence of a local child’s blog on her school dinners, a second flowering the council had itself fuelled.
This led to the Scottish Sock Puppet Theatre caterwauling a hilarious and contemptuously satirical song about ‘Argyll and Bewt’ all over the internet, leaving the name of the council a brand damaged beyond redemption.
The counbcil’s Communications Manager, Jo Smith, had earlier been suspended for self-declared online covert surveilllance activities on council critics.
The two next most senior staff – of longer standing and more respected than Ms Smith – were then misguidedly suspended over no more than an ill judged set of private jokes about their superiors – at a time when the council was the butt of satire at a national level.
The two staff promptly resigned. Life was a lot too short for this.
Then there came the media firestorm after council officers made a serious mess of the matter of the school dinners protest blog, topped off by a national press release so incompetent that it was no less than a self-igniting weapon of self destruction. The sock puppets’ song delivered the coup de grace.
Now hope for better is on the near horizon.
Aileen McNicol from the Dunoon Observer has been appointed to the communications office.
She is a good journalist, with Highlands and Islands awards to her credit. She is also a steady-footed, grounded person with respected values, unlikely to be led into the sort of bunker mentality and dubious practices that led to the implosion of the council service.
We wish both Ms McNicol and the council well in this initiative. The appointment is a good one.