East Ayrshire Council

Question Time — Scottish Executive – in the Scottish Parliament at 2:30 pm on 30 September 1999.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Scottish National Party 2:30, 30 September 1999

To ask the Scottish Executive what recommendations have been made by the Accounts Commission regarding the financial problems of East Ayrshire Council, and what plans the Executive has to implement those recommendations. (S1O-412)

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

Presiding Officer, I am extremely fond of TS Eliot's work and I recommend that you read it— [Laughter.] There is a wonderful opportunity to transfer the letters of TS Eliot for some other offensive title.

I understand that East Ayrshire Council's external auditor, who is appointed by the Accounts Commission, has made a wide range of recommendations to the council as part of the audit process. I understand also that the recommendations include a request for the preparation of an action plan to deal with a backlog of benefit cases. The controller of audit also submitted a statutory report regarding East Ayrshire's direct labour organisation to the Accounts Commission in December 1998, and the commission asked the controller to report back within a year. It is not appropriate for me to become involved in the audit process, as it is a matter between a council and its auditor.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Scottish National Party

Is not the minister aware that the financial mismanagement, which prompted the intervention of the Accounts Commission, is continuing, to the point where council services and jobs are being destroyed? He gives the distinct impression of sitting on his hands while that is going on.

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

I often sit in the most appropriate fashion for this Parliament—on my bottom.

We are aware of concerns raised by the Accounts Commission. This is a local matter, which the local authority, through the establishment of a working group involving elected members and officers, will address. I am pretty certain that East Ayrshire will address the concerns raised by Mr Ingram.

Photo of Adam Ingram Adam Ingram Scottish National Party

Will Mr McAveety take any responsibility for what is happening in East Ayrshire Council?

Photo of Frank McAveety Frank McAveety Labour

I will clarify the roles of the minister and the local authority. The local authority is responsible for its audited accounts and will be held responsible for them when they are published. We have encouraged the local authority to ensure that it meets the specifications set by the Accounts Commission. I am sure that East Ayrshire Council is endeavouring to do that.