Glasgow & West Scotland

Accounts Commission notes South Ayrshire Council improvements

South Ayrshire Council headquarters Image copyright South Ayrshire Council
Image caption The Accounts Commission said South Ayrshire Council had made improvements

A council that was heavily criticised for not tackling major failings highlighted five years ago has finally made improvements, a watchdog has said.

The Accounts Commission said there was "clear evidence" that South Ayrshire Council had "taken prompt action to address the weaknesses identified" in the latest report in February.

But it noted some improvements had yet to be made.

The commission said it was "too early" to assess the long-term impact.

Reports by the Accounts Commission in 2009, 2010 and in February this year had been critical of the council.

A follow-up report published on Thursday examined work done since February when the commission had voiced serious concerns about significant weaknesses in the management of the council.

Management restructured

The latest report said there were clear signs of progress.

In March, the council approved a plan to drive forward improvement across the authority and agreed actions in response to each of the commission's concerns.

It also revised its scrutiny arrangements and restructured senior management posts.

The report recognised that a number of the improvements, especially the new system for scrutinising council performance, had still to be fully implemented.

This meant it was too early to assess the effectiveness of the changes.

The report also stressed the importance of councillors and senior officers having a clear and shared understanding of their respective roles and responsibilities.

Accounts Commission chair Douglas Sinclair said: "At the heart of this is the need to build and embed a culture of delivering best value for the public and achieving continuous improvement in the council's services. This is a statutory duty on all councils.

"South Ayrshire Council is addressing substantial and deep-rooted problems. It will take time to achieve the major shift in culture required.

"So far, the signs are encouraging but it is too early at this stage to judge the longer term impact."

The commission has asked for a further report within the next 18 months.

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