N E W S F E E D S >>>

Caithness News Bulletins April 2006

April 2006 March 2006

Caithness.org News Index

Front Page Archives

Audit Scotland Reports Published In 2005  

Highland Council

The Audit of Best Value and Community Planning for The Highland Council Available In Full (58 Pages)
At Audit Scotland

5 April 06
Audit Scotland Report On Highland Council

The Highland Council praised for its 'significant strengths', but needs stronger corporate direction

In its report on The Highland Council published today (Wednesday 5 April 2006), the Accounts Commission says that whilst the council often delivers appropriate and effective solutions to residents' problems, there are areas in which it must make improvements if it is to be in a position to deliver Best Value. In particular there is a need for stronger corporate direction from councillors and for corporate strategic management in the senior management team to complement the chief executive.

The report says that The Highland Council residents are increasingly satisfied with service delivery and the council engages well with its local communities and partner organisations such as the NHS. Another strength is that despite the high cost of service delivery, Band D council tax is below the Scottish average.

However the council needs to do more to pull together its eight administrative areas and shape their direction. It also needs to improve the information councillors receive about the council's performance, so they can make the most of their scrutiny role. The council should also consider putting some of the services delivered by its Significant Trading Organisations out to competitive tender, and should make better use of options appraisal and benchmarking.

Alastair MacNish, Chair of the Accounts Commission says: "The Highland Council's decentralised structure often delivers appropriate and effective solutions to local problems and residents are increasingly satisfied with the results. However there is a need for stronger corporate direction from councillors. This should focus on making the council more cohesive, improving its centralised activities - such as workforce planning - and setting fewer, clearly articulated priorities. The council needs to ensure it is operating as efficiently as possible, given the pressure on its financial resources."

The Accounts Commission requires The Highland Council to produce an Improvement Plan that addresses the report and the Commission's findings. The Commission will continue to monitor the council's progress through the normal audit process.

5 April 06
Highland Council's Viewpoint On The Audit
The Audit of Best Value and Community Planning for The Highland Council

The Audit of Best Value and Community Planning for The Highland Council, prepared by Audit Scotland for the Accounts Commission for Scotland, will be presented to members of the Council for their consideration at their next meeting on Thursday 4 May.

Convener Councillor Alison Magee noted the positive nature of the report, which commended the Council for its strong community engagement; well-established joint working with the voluntary sector, NHS Highland and other partners; and increasing public satisfaction with service. It also recognised the challenges faced by the Council in delivering services to the largest land mass of any Scottish local authority.

She also noted the recommended action which would form part of an improvement plan to be presented to the Council for approval. Many of the improvements noted in the report were also identified by the Council through its self assessment of performance carried out last year. Work is in progress already on most of the improvement actions.

She said: "The comprehensive review of our performance has highlighted many examples of good practice and I am very pleased about comments in the report recognising the public's enhanced satisfaction with our services during the current term of this council. We will endeavour to maintain and build upon this. We acknowledge the constructive criticism that you would expect to find in an audit and will present an improvement plan to the Council on 4 May."

The Report At Audit Scotland Web Site
The Highland Council:
The Audit of Best Value and Community Planning

Main report (PDF | 626KB, 58 pages)
Gaelic (PDF | 211KB, 13 pages)
Main report (RTF | 1.5MB)
Gaelic (RTF | 84KB)