Some progress at Inverclyde but Commission wants increased pace of change

The Accounts Commission published its progress report today (Wednesday 30 November) on Inverclyde Council. The report considers the steps taken by the council since June to address concerns highlighted in the Commission’s initial Best Value audit report. The report says the council has made progress on its recovery, but there is still a long way to go. The Commission has asked for a further report charting progress to 31 March 2006.

Best Value is the duty placed on local authorities to demonstrate their on-going commitment to providing better services to local people. The Commission’s June report said that Inverclyde Council was not in a position to deliver Best Value in the services it provides for local people. Extensive and fundamental weaknesses in leadership and direction by elected members and senior management were preventing Inverclyde Council from improving. The Commission urged the council to take urgent, remedial action.

Commenting on the findings of the progress report published today, Accounts Commission Chair Alastair MacNish said:

“While a recovery exercise has been put in place at Inverclyde council it is only now reaching the stage where proper implementation can begin. We recognize that the council has put considerable energy into this and that acceptance and understanding have grown steadily. However, the pace of recovery needs to increase in addressing the problems. The challenges involved in this level of recovery should not be underestimated but the risk to service delivery must be kept to an absolute minimum.

“We urge the council to immediately draw up a more robust plan for the next 12 – 18 months, to recruit a new Chief Executive without delay and ensure that in the meantime the interim management arrangements properly meet the council’s needs.”

The Commission is also seeking greater assurance on a number of other matters:

  • That there is clarity about the way in which the Interim Management Arrangements will work until the council has completed its management restructure;
  • That clear decisions are recorded as to the exact nature of the new management structure;
  • That an open, fair and objective selection process is applied in populating the new management structure;
  • That plans be drawn up to ensure management development across the organisation to support the council’s staff;
  • That the role of elected members and their relations with officers continue to develop;
  • That baseline performance information is established for all services;
  • That the council continues to benefit from the support of external expertise.

Alastair MacNish continued: “The Council’s progress will be monitored closely and we expect a further report from the Controller of Audit on what has been done by the Council as at 31st March 2006. We will give consideration at that point to any further measures which need to be taken.”