City of York Council - Head of Communications
£50,630 to £57,214 plus relocation support

'Making history, building communities'

Welcome, and thank you for your interest in learning more about City of York Council and this incredibly exciting role.

As the recently appointed Assistant Director of Policy and Strategy I am passionate about York - There is a depth and robustness to York – this city is so much more than beautiful built heritage.  This is a city which has changed so much about how we view the world, with a history of pioneering social housing, SMART transport or outstanding education, York is a city with so much to offer.  Right now, we are in the midst of the biggest changes to the city since Roman times.  Whether resident-led regeneration or tackling the climate emergency, it’s never been a better time to lead communications.

I am looking for a leader who shares my enthusiasm and empathy, a leader wants to get under the skin of what it means to live here and who wants to understand the issues that matter to the whole of the community.  You will need to make sure our strategies and policies reflect the needs of our residents and underpin everything we do.  You will need to speak up for those who can’t always speak for themselves, share evidence and find better ways to engage residents, businesses and partners, whilst balancing immediate priorities with longer term strategies.

This is an exciting time to be joining us - we have the imminent prospect of devolution and together with the associated additional funding it will bring, the ambition to be carbon neutral city by 2030, and the opportunity to build back better as we recover from Covid. We have also recently completed a leadership restructure and created several roles to deliver better outcomes for the residents of York -  in many ways this is the start of a journey, offering an exciting opportunity to help shape the direction of travel.

This is an award winning Communications Team (Public Sector Excellence Communications Awards, Bronze, Unified Communications for Outbreak Management Communications) with a strong reputation.

I believe this role will appeal to an ambitious, strategic and forward thinking leader who is familiar with forming collaborative partnerships with many different stakeholders and who understands how to navigate within an often changing, complex and political landscape. I am looking for a leader who can be outward facing, who has a real grasp of the issues we face locally, regionally and nationally, but who also appreciates the importance of internal relationships and who is able to deftly and persuasively negotiate and encourage others to different ways of thinking when required. You will be resilient, hard working and able to juggle and prioritise on a daily basis.

York has a very ambitious agenda and this means the role is extremely varied and fast paced, so it is vital to be able to act decisively and pivot quickly when required.  The issues facing York are wide ranging and they all have equal importance to its’ residents, whether it be local flooding, managing the aftermath of the Covid pandemic, the importance of Pride month, or the need to build more sustainable housing and carbon reduction pathway - to name but a few. York also has a huge regeneration programme which will bring about significant transformation and structural change. By truly understanding these issues, and by tapping into what really matters to our residents, this role will enable you to act as our conscience and to help bring about change with credibility and authority. At the same time, while the agenda may be large the team is relatively compact, so I am looking for a strategic leader who is happy to get involved in technical delivery and work alongside others, lead their team by example and inspire them to flourish and prosper. Technically sound, you will embrace ever-changing modern marketing and communication.

You and your team will further enhance the reputation of York, the place and the council on a regional, national and international stage.

In short, you will find that the role will provide you with the kind of professional challenge and complexity you will naturally aspire to as an ambitious leader - our size means that we are large enough to provide the rich mix of complexities facing local government, but at the same time we are small enough to get things done - we are not tied up by bureaucracy and red tape. This role will provide you with the opportunity to make a significant difference as well as a platform to enhance your career. Finally, we are a stable authority, our resources and finances are well managed, and you will be welcomed by an experienced and hardworking team.

If you are interested in joining our team and are inspired to help lead the next phase of our journey, we look forward to your application. In the meantime, following an initial conversation with our recruitment partners at The Resourcing Solution I would be delighted to discuss this opportunity with those who might wish to learn a little more.

Claire Foale, Assistant Director of Policy and Strategy

Listen to Claire Foale, Assistant Director of Policy and Strategy outlining the key challenges and opportunities the role presents and what she is looking for in the future post holder……

Video to be published shortly.

About the role

As a pivotal member of the leadership team, you will directly support the Assistant Director of Policy and Strategy and Council Leadership Team to actively contribute to the strategic management of the Council and ensure the success of our corporate aims and objectives. You will work collaboratively with elected members, directorate peers, other council officers, partners in the wider city and region, building strong external relationships to make the most of opportunities for our residents.

In this role your focus will be:

  • To develop and deliver an effective, efficient, high quality communications strategy that will raise City of York Council’s reputation, locally, nationally and internationally.
  • To develop and deliver effective audience-appropriate marketing strategies for the City of York Council that meet organisation objectives
  • To develop and deliver effective engagement strategies to support the delivery of major capital projects, ensuring residents remain informed and engaged throughout the development process
  • To develop and deliver an effective and high quality communications and marketing strategy to support the marketing ambitions of the economic strategy developing and embedding a shared narrative for the city.
  • To provide strategic leadership and to drive the delivery and continued improvement of all internal and external communications activity to improve the city council’s reputation and ensure York’s residents, partners, elected members, staff and key stakeholders understand and fully engage with the council’s agenda and priorities in the Council Plan.
  • To develop strong and committed new ways of collaborative working in partnership with other local authorities, external partners and other public sector organisations to deliver city-wide communications and marketing challenges.
  • To act as the most senior advisor responsible for the provision of professional communications and PR expertise and advice to the chief executive, corporate directors, senior officers, the leader and deputy leader and portfolio holders.
  • To be a lead member of the ‘Leading Together’ group and support the provision of services across the city council.
  • To support the agreed corporate values and behaviours of the organisation to support cultural change and development.

Please note - this is a politically restricted role and while the post holder can support councillors, the role is a-political.

About the City of York

History isn’t what York is, history is what makes us who we are.

The people of York built and continue to shape this city. York is a place where people and their stories matter, where an individual’s everyday experiences are as important as our world-class achievements.

Our city is rich in 2,000 years of history with a strong social legacy. Home to the world’s largest railway museum, unique archaeology and historic common land known as “strays”. It is a distinct, exciting and beautiful northern city, forward-looking and progressive.

We are a vibrant, digital city at the heart of Yorkshire - the best of tradition and the modern. With excellent connectivity by road and rail, the neighbouring towns and cities of Leeds, Hull and Harrogate are in easy reach. National Parks and areas of areas outstanding natural beauty are on our doorstep, with their quaint villages and market towns, whilst the Yorkshire coast provides a retreat ideal for sunny days.

We are known for our considerable assets - our internationally important heritage, our strengths as a science city, our creative industries and cultural offer, our digital infrastructure, our young and highly skilled workforce, our world-leading universities and excellent schools and colleges.

Our thriving retail and visitor economy welcomes 7m unique visitors every year. We are ambitious and aim to be a city where local businesses can thrive and residents have good quality jobs, housing, opportunities and access to quality public services. We celebrate and champion the diversity of our population and encourage everyone to play an active role in the city, so that our vibrant economy and rich communities can make York the acclaimed city it is.

We are regularly recognised by Sunday Times as one of the best places to live, Conde Nast city of best architecture and YouGov found that we are Britain’s favourite city.

People are generous with their time in building on the strengths and assets in our community to help one another, particularly more vulnerable people in our local community. Residents live in safe neighbourhoods and benefit from first-class education, excellent frontline public services and community facilities.

If you are relocating to the area to take up the post we will provide relocation support, see further details below.

Key documents

Corporate communications protocols

About City of York Council

'Making history, building communities'.

City of York Council was established on 1 April 1996 and is formed from parts of five previous local authorities - North Yorkshire County Council, York City Council, Selby and Ryedale District Councils and Harrogate Borough Council.

We are a unitary local authority providing services to around 200,000 people in an area covering approximately 105 square miles. Approximately 2,610 people work for the council (4,895 including schools). We work closely with partners and our communities to improve and make a positive difference. Delivering a high quality service is at the core of what we do.

As a unitary authority, we are responsible for all government functions within our area (except fire and police).

Our Council Plan for 2019 to 2023 sets out our priorities over the coming years and details what steps we'll take to ensure York continues to make history and build communities.

We've focused our plan on eight key outcomes:

  • Well-paid jobs and an inclusive economy
  • A greener and cleaner city
  • Getting around sustainably
  • Good health and wellbeing
  • Safe communities and culture for all
  • Creating homes and world-class infrastructure
  • A better start for children and young people
  • An open and effective council

The Council is made up of passionate and determined problem solvers working together for the benefit of York. We invest heavily in our staff, providing them with an environment in which they can flourish.

Being a people-centred organisation means investing in the talent and wellbeing of our staff and there are many different ways in which we make this happen, including:

  • Providing work which gives you the chance to make a difference to the lives of residents and colleagues;
  • Supportive management, who enable you to thrive and fulfil your potential;
  • Recognition for your hard work, through talent management and staff awards;
  • Support through the changing environment we are all living in;
  • Flexible working practices; and
  • A reward package which recognises your contribution.

As an organisation we promote professional development, remote working, employer supported volunteering and healthy working environments. We also offer a generous benefits package which includes flexi-time, term-time and part-time working options, 30 days annual leave increasing to 35 days upon completion of 5 years local government service, access to the Local Government Pension Scheme together with high street discounts and salary sacrifice schemes.

Contact us and apply now

Apply by: Midnight on Sunday 11 July.

For an informal confidential discussion about these opportunities, please contact Penny Keatings (, mobile: 07811 411462 or Glen Hunt (, mobile: 07506 753248 our recruitment partners - The Resourcing Solution.


To apply please send your CV including a personal statement in one Microsoft Word Document to

It is important that your CV includes: your full contact details (telephone, email, address), full employment history (name of employer, job titles, dates of employment and salary), full education history (qualification, grade, dates and place of study), explanation of any gaps in employment and the contact details of at least two referees including your current / most recent employer indicating whether you consent to us contacting each referee prior to interview.

Your personal statement should outline your motivation for applying and how you meet the criteria for the role.

We will not accept applications from agencies.

This is a politically restricted post as defined by the Local Government and Housing Act 1989.

Key dates

  • Closing: Sunday 11 July 2021
  • Assessment and interview: 22 and 23 July

Your privacy

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