Council slated in audit report

Bungling South Ayrshire Council have been slammed by Audit Scotland in a report which goes right to the top of the organisation.

The damning report is set to pile more pressure on embattled council leader Bill McIntosh who is set to face formal calls for him to step down next month.

SNP opposition Douglas Campbell is leading the calls and is expected to submit a resignation call at the next meeting of South Ayrshire Council on Thursday 6 March.

Reacting to the Audit Scotland report, Councillor Campbell described it as the worst report he has read in decades.

He said: “In 26 years this is the worst external audit report on the performance of members of a South Ayrshire Council I have read.

“In only 2 years we have gone from an improving Council to one where we don’t have a plan, we’ve a blame culture and a Chief Executive has left, we don’t know how well we deliver services and have no incentive to improve because the everything is in the hands of a Conservative and Labour cabal. The administration should be ashamed and should resign.”

However, Councillor McIntosh hit back and defended the record of the Council.

“The Audit Scotland report sets out six recommendations for improvement within the Council – and I want to be very clear that work on every one of these areas is already underway and has been ongoing since before the publication of this report.

“Crucially, not one of these areas relates to service delivery or the quality of our services, so we can reassure our residents on that front.

“In fact, the Commissioners explicitly said in public session last week that there are no concerns about the quality of our Council services.

The Council leader added: “What has been put under the microscope are internal processes, reporting mechanisms and monitoring arrangements and we’re addressing these.”

The Best Value report criticises the council in a number of areas.

The report concluded that the council lacks strategic direction and can’t demonstrate it is directing resources towards its priorities in order to achieve the best value.

In a wide reaching report Audit Scotland slated the council for not having a corporate strategy for the best part of 18 months.

The report says that a council’s corporate plan is key to providing strategic direction across the organisation yet South Ayrshire Council has been without a corporate plan since September 2012.

Senior managers within the council also came in for criticism for failing to attend meetings.

Audit Scotland said that there had been a significant lack of corporate working with the council and senior managers attendance at Corporate Management Team Meetings had been inconsistent.

The Auditing body also pointed out that the council’s use of their own self-assessment toool “How Good is our council?” had not been implemented properly across the organisation.

They also criticised the council’s audit committee pointing out that two of its three scrutiny panels meet infrequently meaning there are significant weaknesses in challenging decisions made by councillors.