Council set to accept Accounts Commission criticism

Argyll and Bute Council's Lochgilphead HQ, where council members will consider the Accounts Commission's highly critical findings into the working relationships and strategic leadership at the authority this week.
Argyll and Bute Council's Lochgilphead HQ, where council members will consider the Accounts Commission's highly critical findings into the working relationships and strategic leadership at the authority this week.

Argyll and Bute’s 36 councillors will be asked to accept in full the findings of a highly critical report on the authority’s activities when they meet later this week.

A report by chief executive Sally Loudon, to be considered at a full council meeting on Thursday, November 28, recommends that the council accept the Accounts Commission’s findings and develop an action plan, to be approved by councillors and submitted to the Commission, within the next three months.

The Accounts Commission’s findings, published last month, laid bare a “lack of collective strategic leadership” at the authority, resulting from almost 18 months of political instability following the May 2012 local elections - and warned that frontline services could soon be affected if the problems are not addressed.

The Commission found that changes in political groupings, as well as shifting allegiances across and within groups of councillors, were “exacerbating a culture of mistrust” - and pointed out that working relationships between councillors, and between a few councillors and officers, were strained, and that the challenges facing the council were “affecting the capacity of senior managers”.

The Accounts Commission’s findings were published after the receipt of a similarly critical statutory report prepared by the Controller of Audit.

Mrs Loudon’s report for Thursday’s meeting states: “Since receipt of the report there has been engagement with the Improvement Service.

“Most recently a workshop for elected members was held on 18th November 2013, and outputs from this will inform the developing action plan which will deal with all the findings arising from the Statutory Report and the Findings.

“The action plan will be brought to the Council for approval to allow its submission to the Accounts Commission within the required timescale.”