‘Serious concerns’ over council audit report

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The Accounts Commission have slammed South Ayrshire Council’s lack of progress in addressing long-term weaknesses.

Their damning criticism comes hot on the heels of last month’s Audit Scotland Best Value report which pointed out failings in the council’s leadership style, strategic direction and the fact they haven’t had a corporate plan for the best part of 18 months.

Now the Accounts Commission have said they have serious concerns that the council haven’t addressed issues raised FIVE years ago.

In 2009, Audit Scotland highlighted concerns over the council’s lack of a culture of continuous improvement, the ineffective scrutiny of elected members and their inability to deliver an effective management system.

And half a decade on, it seems that the organisation which is lurching from crisis to crisis haven’t learned their lesson.

The Accounts Commission said that there isn’t any clear statement of the council’s priorities.

“Without a plan, there is no clear statement of the council’s priorities for services and improvement. Nor is there clear information about how it will address significant national issues, such as health and social care integration, in the context of other priorities and challenges.”

The Commission did recognise there weren’t any current concerns about Council services but Commisson Chair Douglas Sinclair pointed out:

“We require progress to be made as a matter of urgency. Otherwise, the weaknesses identified by the targeted audit of Best Value will increasingly have a negative impact on the services that the council provides for people and communities in South Ayrshire and on the public’s confidence in the council.”

Council leader Bill McIntosh outlined the council’s plans to improve.

He said: “The Commission’s findings and the audit report are not a pleasant read – and neither should they be if there are issues we need to address.

“However, I do welcome the recognition that the performance of the Council services we deliver to our people and communities, day in and day out, raised no significant concerns.

“We’re here to serve the people of South Ayrshire and that will continue to be our number one priority as we tackle the challenges set out in the report head-on. We will do what’s needed – it’s as simple as that – and I’m very clear on what’s required, and expected, from both Councillors and officers across the Council.

“I’m confident we have the people and processes in place to address the Commission’s concerns and, by working together, we will deliver sustained and obvious improvement that genuinely makes a difference.”

SNP opposition leader Councillor Douglas Campbell said: “Nothing to see here – move along – everything is under control. Accounts Commission comments already understood – action underway -don’t panic. Quite how the Conservative and Labour administration expect the residents to believe that in less than two years since the election in 2012 South Ayrshire has fallen from the ambition of being the most improved Council in Scotland to being the worst for Leadership is frankly beyond belief.”

His party are set to ask for motions to be agreed asking the leader, provost and depute provost to be removed from office to be discussed inMay.

The vote is to take place tomorrow (Thursday) at a meeting of full council.