The Accounts Commission has published its Best Value report on Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council), citing a number of areas of performance where the comhairle must improve.
Isabelle Low, deputy chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “We are concerned that the comhairle is currently unable to demonstrate a commitment to continuous improvement built into its processes. Without this the comhairle will find it increasingly difficult to deliver effectively for the people of the Western Isles.”
Particular areas of concern include:
- The failure to plan for and to introduce Best Value processes
- The absence of robust performance management arrangements
- Limited performance information gives, at best, a mixed picture of service delivery
- A poor working relationship with the health board.
The report takes full account of the particular geographical and historical circumstances faced by the comhairle and that the Western Isles also experiences the common difficulties faced by local authorities, often in more acute or extreme ways.
It also recognises the advantages and strengths on which it can build such as strong community engagement, active and committed leadership from elected members and effective financial stewardship with a strategic approach to capital planning.
However, the Commission concludes that the comhairle must adopt a more focused approach and the pace of change must increase if it is to be able to cope with the challenges ahead.
Isabelle Low said: “We are encouraged by the fact that the comhairle has commissioned its new chief executive to undertake a root and branch review of how the authority operates and we look forward to receiving from the comhairle an Improvement Plan which is specific as to resources, responsibilities and timescales to deliver this important agenda.”