Watchdog praises significant progress and strong leadership at West Dunbartonshire Council
A representative from Audit Scotland spoke at a council meeting last week where the results of the Accounts Commission’s Best Value audit of the local authority were presented to councillors.
Audit Scotland conducted the review on behalf of the watchdog and its audit director Fiona Mitchell-Knight echoed the comments made in the report which found that effective and improved leadership from councillors and officers had been critical to the progress made in West Dunbartonshire.
Ms Mitchell-Knight also highlighted the clear and steady improvement in service performance – particularly in the council’s priority areas of housing and advancing educational attainment.
The key strengths identified in the report included:
- The vision, leadership and strategic direction of the council
- A steady improvement in performance and use of resources, including finances and staffing
- Effective financial management
- Partnership working including with community planning partners and other local authorities
- Future plans which reflects the needs of the communities in West Dunbartonshire
Council leader, Councillor Jonathan McColl, said: “This is an excellent report for West Dunbartonshire and evidences the significant efforts to transform this council over the past decade. It is an endorsement of the commitment of all of our staff from our chief executive to frontline workers. We are not complacent and there are areas where we can continue to develop. There is now a strong platform in place on which we can build, we are clear on our vision for the future and both elected members and officers will do everything they can to ensure we deliver for every resident in West Dunbartonshire.”
Councillor Martin Rooney, leader of the opposition, added: “This report confirms the significant improvements made by the council since 2007. All councillors are committed to ensuring progress continues over the coming years and services for residents are maintained and enhanced.”
The Commission published its findings in June following a significant review of the council conducted over several months in 2017/18. The latest Best Value publication marks a significant turnaround for West Dunbartonshire since audit reports in the mid-2000s.
Work is already underway on the areas identified by the Accounts Commission for continued improvements:
- Review project management processes for capital projects
- Further develop workforce plans to include forecasts of numbers and costs
- Continue efforts to address employee absence and support employees through change
- Continue to support the development of the Community Alliance and help it reach its full potential
- Consideration be given by councillors to establishing a cross-party groups to address the financial challenges which exist and the important decisions required in the future
Audit Scotland undertook the review on behalf of the Accounts Commission.