Spending watchdog charts ‘significant progress’ at West Dunbartonshire Council

Ronnie Hinds

West Dunbartonshire Council has made significant progress in recent years led particularly by the effective and improved leadership of councillors and officers, according to the Accounts Commission.

A report out today from the local authority spending watchdog said a commitment to making improvements from the leadership was a “critical part” of the progress.

The Commission said there has been clear and steady improvement in service performance, particularly in the council’s priority areas of housing and advancing educational attainment. Local residents also express increasing satisfaction with council services.

While it is clear that West Dunbartonshire Council faces some real challenges, in particular falling population levels, significant economic deprivation and poor health outcomes for many residents, the report confirms that the council is in a good position to tackle these challenges, despite facing a budget gap of nearly £14 million over the next three years. Continued involvement of local communities will help the council and its partners deal with these challenges, the report added.

Over the last few years there has been a significant expansion and investment in buildings, roads and other assets. But this work hasn’t always been delivered on time. Improvements to project planning and management are needed to ensure the council has the capacity and capability to delivery these projects, on time and on budget, the watchdog said.

Ronnie Hinds, deputy chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “This report on West Dunbartonshire Council shows the significant progress made by the council over the last eleven years.

“Clear leadership and constructive working relationships have enabled the council to maintain or improve services while faced with real social and economic issues. More of this will be needed, together with effective financial and project management, to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.”

Councillor Jonathan McColl, council leader, said: “This report marks a significant milestone for West Dunbartonshire Council. Over the last 11 years the Council has been on a journey of improvement and it’s really pleasing that the Accounts Commission has recognised the progress which has been made both in improving the services we deliver for our residents and also in engaging with our communities and planning for the future. We have clear plans in place for the next four years and this is reflected in our strategic plan. We are committed to continuing to improve and reflecting the needs, wishes and aspiration of our residents as we move forward.”

Councillor Caroline McAllister, depute council leader, added: “This is a really positive report which all Elected Members should take pride in. Despite the financial challenges which we as a Council have faced, we have continued to reflect and improve and that is evident in our performance figures. I want to take this opportunity to thank our staff for the key role they have played in delivering these improvements. This report is validation of their efforts.”

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