Leadership ‘improving’ at Aberdeen City Council, says watchdog

Accounts_CommissionAberdeen City Council has improved how it is run in recent years and has plans for further changes but a great deal more work is needed to deliver these, according to the Accounts Commission.

A new report out today examines progress at the council following changes in management structures and political leadership. The Commission said the report comes amid “strained political working relationships” in the past and with some decisions proving controversial and raising considerable public interest.

In its findings, the Commission noted that a “great deal more improvement needs to be delivered”. It states that “the priority for the council, given its past history, must be to continue its momentum for change, to clearly demonstrate how it is making improvements and make sure these are firmly embedded throughout the local authority”.

The report says the chief executive and the leader of the council have “an effective working relationship and inclusive leadership style”. There is more effective cross-party working, which is contributing to greater consensus, although there are “still occasionally disrespectful exchanges between councillors”.

The council has improved its financial management and its financial position in recent years, and this provides a solid foundation for its next five-year business plan, the Commission said.

It added that the chief executive is putting “a significant programme of improvement” in place but it is “too early to say how effective this will be”. The council’s priorities “need to be better connected” with all its plans and with its systems for reporting progress. A recent survey showed council staff did not clearly understand its priorities.

The Commission said the council should also ensure that elected members are receiving consistent information on service performance so they can discharge their scrutiny role effectively.

Accounts Commission chair Douglas Sinclair said: “There are positive signs of improvement in Aberdeen and we’re encouraged by the council’s self-awareness in recognising how it needs to improve. However, it still has much more to do to secure the wider improvements it seeks in the longer term.”


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