The Accounts Commission – the local government spending watchdog – has praised South Ayrshire Council's progress, strong culture of improvement, leadership and improved governance and scrutiny in a new report published today (29 June).
The Commission's findings now feature in the Council's Best Value Report, which the Commission considered earlier this month. The findings state:
"A strong culture of improvement is in place, built upon shared leadership by members and officers and improved relationships between elected members, demonstrated by the effectiveness of the Best Value working group and better scrutiny arrangements.
"The development of the senior management team has also been a significant contributory factor, and there have been encouraging efforts by the council to learn from other organisations in finding new ideas and fresh thinking.
"It is imperative for the council to sustain its momentum, so that it can meet its duty of Best Value and in particular, address difficult decisions that lie ahead in reshaping council services in response to reducing resources. The momentum will be helped by:
- Continuity in the stability of its leadership arrangements
- Embedding its improvement culture further, at all levels in the council
- Continuing with the full appraisal of options for the future delivery of services
- Further improving its approach to engaging service users and communities."
South Ayrshire Council Leader, Councillor Bill McIntosh, said: "The Council has been on an incredible journey over the last couple of years and it's testament to the efforts of our employees and elected members that this has been recognised in such a positive way by the Accounts Commission.
"It's important to remember the criticisms that were levelled at the Council in 2014 were not at all about service delivery and both Audit Scotland and the Accounts Commission have continued to recognise the quality of the services we provide throughout this time.
"However, we were no less concerned about making the necessary improvements and I am confident that has largely been achieved and we will, as the Commission states, sustain the momentum.
"I am also encouraged by the Commission's recognition of the impact of reducing resources on delivering quality services as that is – undoubtedly – the biggest challenge we continue to face in local government.
"What is clear today is that the Council has the strong and effective leadership, clear strategic direction and culture of continuous improvement in place that will help us face challenges like this head on.
"Of course, we know there is still more work to do. We will continue to take that forward with pride and purpose, so we continue to make a difference and deliver best value for the people and communities of South Ayrshire."
The full report is available here.