West Dunbartonshire Council has made “significant progress” in the delivery of its public spending, according to a watchdog for local government.

The Accounts Commission, which holds councils in Scotland to account, said a critical part of the progress made had been the effective and improved leadership of councillors and officers.

The commission noted clear and steady improvement in service performance, pinpointing the council’s priority areas of housing and advancing educational attainment.

The report read: “Since our last Best Value Report in 2007, West Dunbartonshire Council has made significant improvements in how it works.

“The council now demonstrates a focus on delivering best value and we found evidence of continuous improvement in its services.

“Changes to the senior officer team, including the appointment of the current chief executive in 2011, have played a key role in the improvements the council has made.

“The chief executive and senior management team provide clear direction and senior officers are motivated and passionate in striving to achieve the council’s priorities.

“Officers and councillors from all parties work well together for the benefit of the residents of West Dunbartonshire.”

Councillor Jonathan McColl, leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “Over the last 11 years the council has been on a journey of improvement and it’s really pleasing that the Accounts Commission has recognised the progress which has been made, both in improving the services we deliver for our residents and also in engaging with our communities and planning for the future.

“We have clear plans in place for the next four years and this is reflected in our strategic plan. We are committed to continuing to improve and reflecting the needs, wishes and aspiration of our residents as we move forward.”

The council faces challenges in the form of falling population levels, significant economic deprivation and poor health outcomes for residents, but the report confirmed it is in a strong position to address the issues.

Ronnie Hinds, deputy chair of the Accounts Commission, said: “This report on West Dunbartonshire Council shows the significant progress made by the council over the last eleven years.

“Clear leadership and constructive working relationships have enabled the council to maintain or improve services while faced with real social and economic issues.

“More of this will be needed, together with effective financial and project management, to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.”

Gil Paterson, MSP for Clydebank, added that he was “very pleased to read the positive report from the Accounts Commission”