I was a Public Relations Officer at West Yorkshire Combined Authority for over 15 years until October 2016. Among the major projects I worked on during my final 18 months were the stakeholder and opening event communications for Leeds Station Southern Entrance (photo above), and new rail stations at Kirkstall Forge and Apperley Bridge. But as well as large projects I’ve also worked on more day-to-day tasks such as bus service changes, fare rises, responses and statements from Transport Committee chairs, writing briefing notes, developing communications plans, managing the photo library, shooting and editing video, even the odd speech – a bit of everything.
Concurrently, for three years I also provided communications and public affairs support to Rail North Ltd., co-ordinating communications and acting as a contact point for all 25 partner authorities, managing their web site, briefing journalists, representing Rail North in meetings with other bodies and co-ordinating Rail North’s input into events organised at Westminster by All-Party Parliamentary Groups. This included ‘owning’ the brand, creating and editing content for presentations and helping design displays for Annual Receptions and other events, and working closely with the Department for Transport on major announcements, such as the announcements of the new Northern and TransPennine Express franchises in December 2015 and their launch in April 2016.
While at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive my main projects were work around the Tram Train pilot and the Mass Transit Outline Business Case consultation, as well as general press and political stakeholder communications, plus Freedom of Information Act responses. I was the Senior Communications Officer in a team of four, working with and helping to develop the skills of three less-experienced colleagues.
As a result I now know quite a bit about rail franchising and franchise agreements, rolling stock, financial Control Periods, electrification schemes, legal aspects such as PRM/TSI, bus franchises and voluntary bus partnerships and much more besides – but then, I do like to know as much as possible about the subject I’m supporting. I’ve also worked on stakeholder engagement with rail user groups, Community Rail Partnerships, Consultative Committees, transport user groups and ‘Friends of’ rail station groups.
I haven’t only done things involving buses, trams, trains and politicians though.