Our history goes back to the introduction of Best Value in Scotland and the subsequent Local Government in Scotland Act 2003. Local authorities put forward the suggestion that it would be useful to have a new service that would work with them to support improvements and to share good practice across the local government community.
The then Scottish Executive consulted on the setting up of an improvement service in the Renewing Local Democracy white paper. A supportive joint submission from COSLA (Convention of Scottish Local Authorities) and SOLACE (Society of Local Authority Chief Executives), along with responses from councils and major stakeholders across Scotland, led to the Executive making a commitment to funding a new improvement service.
A Project Team was formed by the Scottish Executive, COSLA and SOLACE to push forward this project in a partnership approach. All partners agreed, backed by some of the findings of the consultation, to move forward in establishing a joint venture to deliver this service. This culminated in the decision to set up a Company Limited by Guarantee as the legal delivery vehicle.
Rory Mair, Jon Harris, Tom Atchison, Douglas Sinclair, Christie Smith and Clodagh Memery formed the project team and across the Spring and Summer of 2003, went out to Councils and their partners to discuss what type of services and approach would be needed. Much emphasis was placed by councils on the need to provide a service for elected members as well as for officers; to enhance the sharing of good practice between local government; to draw on experience from elsewhere in the UK and further afield; and to look at business change methods to drive improvements and enhance partnership working.
These discussions brought greater clarity to the direction for this new service. In November 2003, the project team gave way to a new Shadow Board, aims and objectives were agreed and work began to recruit a Chief Executive and establish the Improvement Service Company. The Shadow Board members were: Andy Kerr MSP, then Minister for Finance; Leslie Evans; Douglas Sinclair; Keith Yates; Rory Mair; and Cllr. Pat Watters.
The appointment of Colin Mair as Chief Executive in June 2004 represented a new phase in the development of the Improvement Service. By July 2005, the company was legally established and the core staff recruited. The Customer First programme was brought into the Improvement Service and agreement made for the IS to run the Planning Development Programme funded through the Scottish Executive.
And the story continues to unfold as evident from the materials and discussions made available on this website.