Thursday, June 14, 2012

City Council Scrutiny Committee

Yesterday afternoon, the City Council's Scrutiny Committee met and, at this, I:

* Welcomed a number of very positive inspection reports on city schools and on Turriff House.

* Queried the increase in complaints about the City Council (an increase from 216 in 2010/11 to 354 in 2011/12) and also the speed with which they are responded to (61% within 5 days in 2010/11 - the target is 95%) and sought assurances as to how improvement will be made.

* In discussion an Audit Scotland report on using cost information to improve performance, I repeated a request I had previously made of officers to give elected members details of service provision costs (and council tax base and collection) at a ward or Local Community Planning Partnership level.    I think this is an important aspect of allowing a ward councillor to ensure our own constituents are getting a fair share of service expenditure in relation to how much they pay in via the Council Tax, but it is something the City Council cannot yet provide as a breakdown.   I was assured that it was hoped to provide this in the future with I.T. software enhancements to financial systems, but no target date for its provision could be provided.   This is an issue I will continue to highlight as good financial information is important in ensuring that our constituents receive value for money.

* I asked the Chief Executive about progress with shared services between the council's other public sector partners (such as NHS Tayside) and also with our neighbouring local authorities and was given a detailed and helpful response.

* I asked the council's external auditor (KPMG) about progress to resolve issues they had raised about systems that prevent the possibility of duplicate invoices and also a proper and standardised approach to delegated authority for incurring expenditure.

* I asked the Chief Internal Auditor about progress towards completion of a formal business continuity plan for BACS payments.