Comhairle making improvements

THE inner workings of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar have been under the spotlight in the last week as representatives from Audit Scotland carried out monitoring, writes Michelle Robson.

During their visit they acknowledged that the council were in a difficult position in regards to the decision by the Scottish Government to prevent the closure of four island schools.

In their report they remarked that improvements had been made at the council, but higlighted that Waste Management, along with Performance and Asset Management were still significant concerns.

Presenting the latest Assurance and Improvement Plan for the council, Audit Scotland noted that improvements had been made and that they considered the Comhairle to be taking reasonable steps to manage ongoing areas of risk and uncertainty.

They noted that the council was improving its management of risk and uncertainty and demonstrating improvements in service delivery.

Significant improvements in fostering and adoption inspections were higlighted and Audit Scotland also acknowledged the recent increase in the pace of progress.

Positive changes in the work of Education and Children’s Services were noted although it was said there was a need for improvement to inclusions services, children and families services and using the expertise of the department’s quality improvement team.

Cllr Donald Nicholson, Chair of the Comhairle’s Audit and Scrutiny Committee said: “This is a very welcome report, reflecting as it does the improvements the Comhairle has worked hard to achieve. We recognise that there is much work to be done to maintain and progress that improvement but we are on the right road.”

The report also highlighted that Audit Scotland had no significant concerns regarding the use of public money.

The report states: “The regularity of expenditure is examined as part of the annual audit. Good systems of internal control are in place. The Comhairle has several mechanisms which assist in providing assurance that public funds are not misused. Proper scrutiny activity is undertaken by both members and officers. They are supported by an effective internal audit section whose work is thorough, reliable and demonstrates independence.”