28 March 2008
The finances of Aberdeen City Council are 'precarious', according to the public spending watchdog responsible for the audit of Scottish local authorities.
Following a report by controller of audit Caroline Gardner, the Accounts Commission announced that it will hold a public hearing into financial problems identified during a Best Value audit of the council.
The controller found that Aberdeen has a clear and ambitious vision of modernisation and service improvement and had made some progress in delivering change.
But Gardner stated: 'Despite some good areas of service performance, there is evidence of significant weaknesses in major services and the council's financial position is precarious.
'The council's leadership has had difficulty in successfully engaging staff with the improvement agenda. It is not possible at this time to say whether the leadership's desire for change will be successful in creating an organisational culture and securing the necessary behaviours that support continuous improvement.'
The Best Value audit visit was made to the council before the election last May, when the Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition was replaced by a LibDem-Scottish National Party administration.
However, the controller's report takes account of further information on relevant changes.
Kevin Stewart, the council's deputy leader, said: 'This administration has changed things a lot and our last budget has taken into account our current finances. I think a hearing would do the world of good.'
The council faces further controversy over planned spending cuts of £27m.