Council welcomes Best Value report
An independent review of Orkney Islands Council has been welcomed as constructive and positive by Chief Executive Alistair Buchan.
A Best Value Audit of the Council, the first in nine years, was carried out earlier this year by a team from Audit Scotland.
The audit team’s Best Value Assurance Report will be presented to the Accounts Commission, the public spending watchdog for local government in Scotland, on Thursday 7 December.
It is available from the Audit Scotland website by among the Papers for the 7 December meeting.
The report will be published formally with the Commission’s findings around a week later and considered by a special meeting of the Full Council in the New Year.
The report concludes that the Council has a ‘very good understanding’ of its communities and ‘clear priorities and ambition’ for the islands.
The Council’s leadership is ‘stable and effective with a strong focus on doing what is right’ for Orkney’s communities.
The audit team found that local residents have ‘very high levels of satisfaction with Council services, including some of the highest levels across Scotland’.
They also recognise an increased pace of improvement over the last three years, with a focus on OIC’s Change Programme and financial planning for the years ahead.
Mr Buchan said: “This is an expert and independent report card on the Council and I am very pleased that that such a positive report will be presented for consideration by the Accounts Commission.
“I welcome the audit team’s recognition of our focus on doing what’s right for communities across Orkney – this goes to the heart of what we as a Council are all about.
“Their report is constructive and provides a rounded picture of what we do and how we perform as an organisation, and the impact this has on the people we serve.
“I am heartened that the huge commitment given by our Councillors and staff in ever more testing circumstances has been recognised in such a positive way.”
Mr Buchan added: “There is recognition that as a small Council serving an island community, providing services can be complex and challenging. As with all Best Value audits, the report highlight areas where improvements can be made.
“These will be fully considered by the Council and, in the difficult economic climate we face, we will continue to strive to make the most of our resources on behalf of our community.
“We will now build on the findings of the report to achieve further effectiveness in all that we do.”
The detailed audit of the Council took place between March and June. The audit team interviewed Councillors, senior officials and community planning partners.
Council staff and community groups had the opportunity to contribute and a range of Council and Committee meetings were observed.
The audit found that the Council has been ‘slow to develop’ some of the tools for using resources efficiently. These include workforce planning, medium to long-term financial plans, and digital and IT arrangements.
“The pace of progress has, however, picked up in recent years and it is important that the Council maintains this increased pace to ensure it makes best use of public money,” it adds.
The Best Value Assurance Report will be presented to the Accounts Commission at a meeting in Edinburgh.
It is available from the Audit Scotland website by following the links for Agenda Item 12.