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Clackmannanshire Council has “laid the foundations for improvement” according to local authority watchdog, the Accounts Commission.
The Commission has also has praised the Council’s pace of change in a report published today.
The Best Value Assurance Progress Report updates the Accounts Commission following the Best Value Assurance Report in January 2018.
The report states: “The council’s financial position remains very challenging. Against that backdrop, it is making the investment necessary to create the conditions for change. The pace of change has increased significantly since August 2018 and the council is taking steps to secure the capacity it needs to maintain this momentum. The council still has much to do to implement and embed the changes required for service and financial sustainability.”
The report notes that the council has responded positively to the Accounts Commission’s findings and has:
The report says that the new corporate plan ‘Be the Future’ provides a clear focus for improvement, based on collaboration, inclusive growth and innovation. The plan, which covers the period to 2022, sets out a clear vision for the council based on collaboration, inclusive growth and innovation. The plan aligns with the strategic outcomes of the Clackmannanshire local outcome improvement plan (LOIP).
There is evidence of improved working relationships between councillors and officers and a stronger commitment to work collectively in the best interests of the council, according to the report. This is apparent in the way in which business is conducted at council meetings and further evidenced through the work of the change programme board.
There are signs that councillors and officers support a more collaborative approach and have a shared understanding of the need to do things differently, the report says. The party leaders have worked to develop more constructive working relationships and, along with their deputies, now meet monthly. These improved working relationships will be further tested as the council works to deal with its financial challenges and implement its transformation programme.
The council recognises that to transform services it also needs to increase collaboration with community planning partners, third sector organisations and its communities. This includes developing and co-producing local solutions with communities that meet the needs of local people. The council engages with residents on major decisions, such as the corporate plan and budget, but it could do this earlier in the process and more clearly, according to the Accounts Commission.
The recommendations contained within the report are:
Chief Executive Nikki Bridle welcomed the report’s positive findings and confirmed that steps are already being taken to ensure the Council meets the recommendations set out in the report.
She added: “The Accounts Commission findings on the progress report are largely positive and we are pleased that the work carried out since our last Assurance Report in January 2018 has had a positive effect. Like all local authorities, we face significant financial challenges, but we are on a journey of continuous improvement, with clear plans in place to address the areas where improvements are needed. My thanks go to all Council employees for their ongoing work in securing this outcome and their commitment to delivering ‘Be the Future’ our Corporate Plan for 2018-2022, and to our elected members for their focussed joint working and support in implementing our improvement actions. This Plan supports our vision for being a valued, responsive, creative organisation, through collaboration, inclusive growth and innovation, to improve the quality of life for every person in Clackmannanshire.”
Cllr Ellen Forson, Leader of the Council commented: “I am pleased to see the report acknowledging the progress we have made in the Council over the last period. The commitment from elected members to work together has been very pleasing, and I hope that this will continue as we face the challenges ahead to transform the way we deliver services so that we can ensure we are working with partners to provide important services while ensuring the Council’s financial sustainability.”