How Argyll & Bute Works: Alcohol and Drugs Partnership (ADP)

It’s hard to know where to start with this story and I am not sure where this story will end but I think it’s fair to say we have something of a mess on our hands with the Argyll & Bute Alcohol & Drugs Partnership generally known as the ADP.

The funding for ADPs comes from the Scottish Government and it flows through the NHS. The council, the NHS and various other bodies, mostly 3rd sector organisations, form the ADP. The ADP in Argyll & Bute has had lots of difficulties over a number of years. The 3rd sector organisations take the view that the council and the NHS have never treated them as equals and the 3rd sector organisations are viewed by the others as a difficult and fractious bunch. I don’t know enough about the history to take a view on this nor will I. What I plan to do is relate as best I can why and how we have got to where we are.

The 3rd sector organisations had contracts with the ADP to deliver various services and had these for many years. These organisations were locally based, an example being OASIS in Oban and Kaleidoscope in Dunoon. These organisations had boards comprising volunteers from the local communities and, through good times and bad, excellent  work was done by these volunteers, and  their staff, to provide a service to people affected directly or indirectly by drug and alcohol issues. The contracts were via Service Level Agreements and these were generally renewed each year. At some point someone decided that the service delivery was to be the subject of a formal tendering procedure. Getting to the bottom of all of this hasn’t been easy, not least because the ADP appears to have been badly administered, with meetings not being minuted, decisions being made behind closed doors etc, all of which ended up being the subject of a report from Audit Scotland, of which more later.

The report from Audit Scotland can be found at the link below this paragraph. It is very critical of the way the ADP operated and identifies many shortcomings but it then leaves the issues to be sorted out by the very people who created them in the first place. It’s like going to the doctor with some mysterious illness, for the doctor to diagnose what it is but then he tells you to find your own remedy. There are also issues within it that do not appear to have been tested, eg the assurances given by certain parties were not tested for accuracy according to some 3rd sector staff. Auditors and triangulation should be like peas in a pod.

ADPartnershipReview_ABC060515_final_version

This report went to the June meeting of the council’s audit committee and Iain Angus MacDonald, Gordon Blair and myself spent a day together the week before the audit meeting to try and agree on what questions we would ask. There were so many unanswered questions that we had to be quite choosy about which ones to ask. On the day we did not have enough time to ask all our questions and some of the ones we did ask we did not get a satisfactory reply to.

In late June we asked a number of questions of officers and Cllrs Armour, MacLean and Strong added their names to our 3. We met again in Oban in mid July to try and establish what more we could do and we came across some astonishing information related to the non transfer under TUPE of staff previously employed by the 3rd sector.

We got replies to some of our questions last week but some of what we asked for was denied to us by officers. The position as of 28 July is summed up in the document below which is our questions and the answers we got to at least some of them. There will be more on this because further questions still need to be asked. I have spoken to Audit Scotland this week and will be doing so again on Thursday. To be frank, we will need their assistance if this mess is to be sorted out. In the document at the link below, the replies we got are coloured in blue below each question.

ADP questions plus replies to 280715

Author: Michael Breslin

I am no longer a councillor with Argyll & Bute Council but given the appalling treatment I got from the senior officers and a few elected members, I plan to continue keeping an eye on what the council is doing.