Questions were raised over the absence of its poor Audit Scotland report at last week’s first ever live-streamed full South Ayrshire Council meeting.

The auditor’s Best Value Assurance Report (BVAR) was damning of a number of councillors areas, including leadership, training and transparency.

Some queried why, in the interest of transparency, no mention had been made of the report.

A spokesperson for South Ayrshire Council explained that, while the council had sight of the report, it was incomplete.

They said: “While the BVAR is in the public domain, it is not complete until considered and published by the Accounts Commission. Councillors cannot comment on an incomplete report at Council. The scheduled date for publication is now October 27, 2021.

"Copies were circulated to all Councillors and made available to the public.”

The Accounts Commission met at the same time as the full Council last Thursday morning to consider, among other things, SAC’s report.

Depute Chief Executive, and Director of People, at South Ayrshire Council, Douglas Hutchison attended the Accounts Commission meeting, which was chaired by former North Ayrshire Council Chief Executive Elma Murray.

Controller of Audit Anthony Clark covered the issues raised in the report, but started by outlining the ‘serious’ situation the council had faced back in 2014, how significant work by the council had improved matters by 2016 and how this had stalled by 2021.

He said that efforts to improve by 2016 had been ‘very encouraging’, but added that the emphasis on ‘momentum needing to be maintained’ had not been met.

He said much of the positive work from then had been maintained, in areas such as scrutiny and structure, and that the pandemic had led to strong working relations with communities and partners.

Mr Clark then added that “some important aspects of best value where, disappointingly, the council had made much less progress”.

As reported, this centred on medium financial planning, workforce planning, parts of community empowerment and place planning, transparency and pace and ambition around transformation.

He also stated that there are ‘real risks’ due to a lack of a clear plan for dealing with the financial gap facing the council over the next five years.