REPORT BY POLICY OFFICER: MAY 2006
PERFORMANCE MONITORING & BEST VALUE
MEETING WITH AUDIT SCOTLAND/ACCOUNTS COMMISSION
1. Following on from the successful all-member meeting on 16 March 2006
representatives from the Branch have arranged to meet with officials from Audit
Scotland and the Accounts Commission on 12 June 2006.
2. I have drafted a short briefing paper for circulation around the SOLACE
representatives ahead of time. This is based on the outcomes of the discussion that
took place at the all-member meeting. It highlights the need to reduce the inspection
burden borne by Councils, outlines support for an interim review of Best Value Audits
(BVA), sets out where the current BVA arrangements add value and also indicates
where this is not the case. It also reflects the limited value of the current
arrangements for SPIs.
3. Brian Duncan, Corporate Policy Manager, East Lothian Council, has produced a
report around the issue of using public opinion surveys within the performance
management framework for local government. I will be working with Brian to
incorporate the key elements of the report in the brief. Both items will be circulated to
key members involved in this issue as soon as possible.
PUBLIC SECTOR REFORM: STRUCTURE OF POLICING
4. David Hume has been liaising with Peter Wilson of Fife and is hoping to facilitate a
discussion in the autumn around the potential restructuring of policing in Scotland as
part of the public sector reform agenda and following developments in England and
5. Members will be aware that both ACPOS and the Fire Service have approached
SOLACE in order to enter into a discussion around restructuring and public sector
reform earlier this year. As part of my efforts to support this ongoing piece of work I
will be attending a discussion at COSLA on 8 June 2006.
SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT PETITION: ETHICS & CONDUCT OF OFFICIALS
6. Members who attended the Branch meeting in St Andrews will recall the discussion
that took place around the Scottish Parliament Public Petition PE930. At this meeting
I undertook to look into the matter and progress it on the Branch’s behalf.
7. The petition seeks to have the Public Petitions Committee recommend to Scottish
Parliament that the Scottish Public Service Ombudsman Act 2002 be amended to
expand the Ombudsman’s powers to include all aspects of local authority
administration, including the ethics and professionalism of local authority officials.
8. The Public Petitions Committee considered the petition on 22 February 2006 and
agreed to review the matter once it had taken the view of trades union, COSLA, Audit
Scotland, the Ombudsman and the Scottish Executive into account. SOLACE was not
included in this exercise.
9. I have since contacted the Clerk to the Committee and advised him of SOLACE’s
interest in this issue. The committee would now welcome our input, however the
petition will not be considered prior to Parliamentary recess. I have been working on a
draft submission. As part of this work I will be looking at how COSLA and other have
10. There is a suggestion that this particular petition may stem from an individual’s
dissatisfaction with decisions taken in a particular case, however regardless of its
origins it raises key issues for SOLACE around management and accountability. This
is an important opportunity for us to highlight that senior local government officials are
already subject to a very high level of inspection and scrutiny that are possibly
unparalleled elsewhere in the public or private sector. It is also vitally important for us
to make a distinction between the role of the Ombudsman and officer’s accountability
to a democratically elected tier of government within a framework of delegated
BRIEFING NOTE 2
11. I have been working on the second briefing note and intend hope circulate a draft to
office bearers over the next few days and issue it among the wider membership
towards the end of May/beginning of June. This will cover the Scottish Parliament’s
Finance Committee report on Equal Pay & Single Status (published 23 March 2006),
the Shared Services Report and petition on officer ethics and conduct.
Report Author: Jamie Reid, Policy Officer, SOLACE Scotland
22 May 2006