IT has become notorious as the Scottish local authority which trended worldwide on Twitter for its calamitous PR.

Now Argyll and Bute Council has hired a new communications officer after a few months which have seen suspensions, resignations and the censorship of a nine-year-old girl's blog turned into an international sensation.

Aileen MacNicol, formerly a reporter at the Dunoon Observer, has been brought in as a press officer, with additional responsibilities for social media.

The council has suffered months of PR disasters, beginning in February when it suspended its media chief Jo Smith, after The Herald revealed she had been advising fellow PR professionals to set up "spy" accounts on Facebook.

Subsequently, press officers Dinah Mackay and Janet West, were suspended when an investigation revealed they had made a private joke about a colleague using the council's internal messaging service. The pair had not been aware that it was being monitored and quit in April.

However the biggest disaster for the council was last month's blogging row, which saw schoolgirl Martha Payne banned from taking photographs of school dinners for her blog.Within hours, it had brought the council ridicule on social networks and from mainstream news outlets, with high-profile critics such as John Prescott, Jamie Oliver and Nick Nairn weighing in.

However, a collection by Martha for the charity Mary's Meals has so far earned £112,000 for the charity. Until Argyll and Bute's intervention the sum raised was less than £2000.

Chef Nick Nairn, who has been talking to Martha and her father David about working together on his school meals initiative, said: "Argyll and Bute should take it as an opportunity to move forward and make sure school meals are a shining example, as good as they possible can be."

The council said: "Argyll and Bute Council is pleased to confirm that communications officer Aileen MacNicol was appointed on July 9."