SIC councillors will meet on Wednesday to discuss chief executive Alistair Buchan’s ideas for a “root and branch” review following the Accounts Commission’s devastating report into a catalogue of shortcomings within the local authority.
Mr Buchan is spearheading attempts to get the council’s house in order after the commission discovered an organisation with major problems in terms of leadership, governance and relationships between members and officials after a two-day hearing in June. It followed a deeply-damaging split during former chief executive David Clark’s nine-month tenure in office.
It is understood that Mr Buchan was extremely taken aback by aspects of how the council operates after taking up the job three months ago, and he has set aside a budget of £1 million this year to put in place a wide-ranging improvement plan to develop a clear vision of where the local authority is headed.
A variety of systems to support political leadership, to smooth the transition following the next set of elections in May 2012 (when current convener Sandy Cluness is due to retire) and a new communications office are among a raft of measures he is putting in place.
Efforts to engage better with the community, develop the SIC’s workforce and “reinvigorate” attempts to disperse more council jobs to outlying areas also form part of the improvement plan. It is expected there will be an overhaul of the council’s committee structure and a more rigorous financial strategy is to be introduced.
In his report Mr Buchan states: “The delivery of the improvement plan will be a big challenge for everyone in the council; members, officers and staff, but a challenge I am confident we can meet together.
“Members will have to be fully involved in, and fully committed to, the process over an extended period of time. All members, and managers, need to provide strong leadership in order to achieve the outcomes set out in the improvement plan.”