A public spending watchdog’s report on Aberdeenshire Council has recommended “stronger leadership” in order to help deliver the best value for taxpayers.
The new document from the Accounts Commission, which is dedicated to improve the use of public money, has made a raft of recommendations to the local authority.
Although it found that the council’s monthly reputation tracker regularly shows “high public satisfaction with most services”, the body said that since the last “Best Value” report in 2013, the “pace of change has been slow in some key aspects”.
The report, discussed at a meeting held yesterday by the Accounts Commission, found the authority “has had a relatively stable financial position but the rising cumulative funding gap, exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic, will require stronger leadership from elected members”.
It continued: “Stronger leadership is required from its elected members to establish fewer, clearer priorities, focus on what is most important, and increase its pace in delivering more ambitious outcomes for its communities”.
Earlier this week at a full council meeting, members approved a new 2020 to 2022 Council Plan to help tackle the forecasted £30 million budget gap caused by the virus.
The new plan focuses on the three “pillars” of “people, environment and the economy”.
In total, the Accounts Commission has made nine recommendations to Aberdeenshire Council, and said the authority should “take decisive action to establish a consistent approach to continuous improvements across all of its services, and drive positive change for its communities”.
The leader of Aberdeenshire Council Jim Gifford said last night: “It was good to be able to sit in on this meeting of the Accounts Commission this morning and observe their deliberations of our draft Best Value Audit (BVA) report.
“The whole BVA process was an interesting one that involved many officers and councillors across the council over many months.
“We now look forward to hearing the commission’s findings and then we will take a report on the final version of the BVA report to our full council meeting in November.”
A spokesman for the council said: “We are aware of the discussion today with the Accounts Commission.
“We look forward to hearing the findings and note that the final report will be considered by Aberdeenshire’s full council in November.”