Council appoints its first independent chair for audit and governance

Siobhan White
Siobhan White

A qualified accountant and senior lecturer has been appointed as the external and independent Chair of South Ayrshire Council’s Audit and Governance Panel – the first role of its kind within the Council.

Siobhan White, a Senior Lecturer in Law, Economics and Accountancy at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU), will chair her first meeting of the Panel in September.

She will be responsible for chairing and contributing to Audit and Governance Panel meetings, encouraging open and proactive accountability, and working with Council staff to plan and develop the work programme for the Panel.

A member of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, Siobhan has extensive experience not only of teaching audit and governance, but of putting that into practice and holding organisations to account.

As well as lecturing at GCU, Siobhan also works in a governance and quality role for the university, and was Chair of the Audit Committee of West of Scotland Housing Association for11 years.

In addition, she has led a number of high-profile research projects, presenting research interests throughout UK, Europe and USA, and has been published in various academic and professional journals.

Siobhan was appointed by a selection panel chaired by Councillor Bill McIntosh, Leader of the Council. The selection panel also included Councillor John McDowall, Depute Leader of the Council, and Councillor Allan Dorans, SNP Group Leader.

Councillor McIntosh said: “We were looking for someone who understand the values and role of governance in the public sector; has excellent communication and negotiating skills, and has a solid understanding of the financial, risk and governance issues facing the Council.

“Siobhan has all of these qualities and more. She will play a vital role in ensuring our Council is open, accountable, transparent and delivers best value for the people and communities of South Ayrshire and I look forward to working with her in this new and important role.”

Councillor McDowall added: “The appointment of an independent chair is a significant step change for the Council and will help ensure the Council is scrutinised in a clear, robust and independently accountable way. Siobhan brings an outstanding level of experience to the role and will be an extremely effective Chair, helping us demonstrate strong and sound governance right at the heart of the organisation.”

Councillor Dorans said: “Siobhan has fantastic skills, a wealth of experience and an extremely impressive resume, all of which will benefit the Council. She will be a vital asset as we work to improve our audit and governance arrangements and will, I’m sure, make a very real difference for us all. My congratulations to her on her appointment.”

Siobhan (46) is married with children and lives in East Dunbartonshire. She said: “I’m passionate about the role of audit and governance in the public sector and it’s vital organisations like South Ayrshire Council have robust arrangements in place to deliver effectively and efficiently for the people they serve.

“It’s a difficult time for South Ayrshire Council – as it is for all councils – with a changing political and operational landscape, reducing budgets, and the need to build participation and partnerships with communities.

“At times like these, the role of scrutiny, audit and governance is crucial so that elected members, staff and local people can have complete confidence that their Council is working in the best possible way and delivering the best possible outcomes. That’s what I want to achieve at the Council and I’ll be working with my fellow Panel members, officers across the Council and partner organisations to do just that.

“This is a great opportunity to influence and improve the governance of South Ayrshire Council, bringing a fresh and dynamic approach that will help the Council achieve its vision of becoming the most dynamic, inclusive and sustainable community in Scotland. That will be my benchmark for my time as Chair and it’s an opportunity I will embrace with both hands.”

Siobhan will hold the fixed-term position – which includes remuneration of £5,000 per year – until 31 May 2017.