Agenda and minutes

Governance Committee
Wednesday, 18th April, 2018 6.00 pm

Venue: Wheel Room, Civic Centre, West Paddock, Leyland PR25 1DH

Contact: Dianne Scambler  Email: dscambler@southribble.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

52.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

All members of the Committee were present.

53.

Declarations of Interest

Members are requested to indicate at this stage in the proceedings any items on the agenda in which they intend to declare an interest. Members are reminded that if the interest is a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct) they must leave the room for the whole of that item. If the interest is not a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest, but is such that a member of the public could reasonably regard it as being so significant that it is likely that it would prejudice their judgment of the public interest (as explained in the Code of Conduct) then they may make representations, but then must leave the meeting for the remainder of the item.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

54.

Minutes of the Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Held on Wednesday, 31 January 2018, to be signed as a correct record.

Minutes:

That subject to the inclusion of Councillor Susan Snape as being in attendance, the minutes of the Committee held on 31 January 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

In respect of Minute 46, the Committee was advised that the risk register plan relating to the South Ribble City Deal was currently with the City Deal Executive and would be circulated to the Committee as soon as possible.

55.

External Audit Progress Report and Sector Update pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Resources and Transformation)/External Auditor Engagement Lead.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Deputy Chief Executive (Resources and Transformation) on the External Audit Progress Report and Sector Update. This provided information from the Council’s external auditors on progress in delivering their responsibilities and was attached at Appendix A, and included:

 

·         a summary of emerging national issues and developments that may be relevant to local authority; and

·         a number of challenge questions in respect of these emerging issues which the Committee may wish to consider

 

Appendix A also included information in relation to:

·         2017/18 statutory audit and VFM update

·         certification of claims and returns

·         accounts audit plan 2017/18

·         update on technical and local authority matters

 

There had been regular meetings between Council officers and the external auditors and good progress had been made along with early testing. The Council was certainly further along the process than at this point last year.

 

It was confirmed that to date that the audit findings had found that nothing was required to be reported to internal audit (such as a deficiency in controls etc).

 

In respect of the value for money conclusions (page 17 of the agenda pack), the Committee was informed that without further investigation it would be hard to ascertain if it was the same local authorities in 2015/16 and 2016/17.

 

In the external auditors report in respect of the concept of proportionality (page 18 of the agenda pack), the external auditor’s commented that local authorities needed to operate within the regulations and an increase in commerciality had been noted.

 

In the External Auditors’ report (on page 20 of the agenda pack) there was reference to the Supply Chain Insights tool which the Council might take advantage of. The Committee was advised that this was a recent tool in which the Council was interested and was being monitored by its officers.

 

 

RESOLVED (Unanimously):

 

That the external auditors report be noted.

56.

External Audit Plan 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 87 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Resources and Transformation)/External Auditor Engagement Lead.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Deputy Chief Executive (Resources and Transformation) on the External Audit Plan 2017/18 which was attached at Appendix A. This included the content and timing of their statutory audit for the year ending 31 March 2018.

 

The plan was risk based and was materially similar to the plan last year and covered the following:

·         Respective responsibilities 

·         Deep business understanding

·         Risks identified

·         Materiality levels

·         Value for Money (VFM) arrangements

·         Resourcing, timescales and Audit Fees

·         Early Closure requirements

 

In respect of the identified significant risks on Page 3 of the report it was explained that these were not specific to South Ribble and were included in many action plans across the country.

 

The Committee was advised that there were regular meetings between Council officers and the external auditor around the Statement of Accounts and Annual Governance Statement and the Council was confident that it would meet the deadlines.

 

RESOLVED (Unanimously):

 

That the External Audit Plan 2017/18 be noted.

57.

Internal Audit Plan 2018/19 and Internal Audit Charter pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Report of the Head of Shared Assurance Services.

Minutes:

The Principal Auditor presented a report seeking the Committee’s approval of the Internal Audit Plan 2018/19 and Internal Audit Charter.  The plan and charter were attached to the report at Appendices 1 and 2 respectively.

 

The Committee was informed that whilst there was a change from last year in the split of the number of audit days for South Ribble and those for Shared Services overall it was unchanged.

 

In respect of City Deal, the Committee was informed that it was felt the number of days allocated in the plan was appropriate and if needed, this could be increased using contingency days.

 

RESOLVED (Unanimously):

 

That the Internal Audit Plan 2018/19 and Internal Audit Charter be approved.

58.

Risk Management Framework pdf icon PDF 182 KB

Report of the Head of Shared Assurance Services.

Minutes:

The Head of Shared Assurance Services presented a report to the Committee on the updated Risk Management Framework. This demonstrated further improvements and that the Council was ensuring that risk management was central to its day to day activity.

 

The Committee appreciated the recent informative Member Learning Hour on Risk Management Framework providing a better understanding and the opportunity to give input into the review process.

 

Whilst GRACE (governance, risk assessment, and control evaluation) indicated a timescale for the review of individual risks under Para 6 of the report, in reality there was ongoing action to mitigate risks.  It was confirmed there had been a lot of staff awareness training which had included how to report/raise an identified risk.

 

RESOLVED (Unanimously):

 

That the updated Risk Management Framework be approved for adoption.

59.

2017/18 Closure of Accounts - Approval of Accounting Policies to be included in the Statement of Accounts 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Resources & Transformation).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Further to Minute No.45, 31 January 2018, the Committee considered a report of the Deputy Chief Executive (Transformation and Resources) on the Statement of Accounting Policies to be included in the Statement of Accounts 2017/18.

 

These were minor changes listed in Section 4.5 of the report and identified as track changes in the policies document at Appendix A attached to the report.  The Committee was also advised of future changes in the 2018/19 Accounting Code of Practice and subsequent years.

 

The Committee was pleased to see that external auditor’s comments had been taken on board in the policies.  It was confirmed that the policy changes and those forthcoming were not onerous on the Council.

 

RESOLVED (Unanimously):

 

That the Statement of Accounting Policies to be included in the Statement of Accounts 2017/18 be approved.

60.

Notices of Motion pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Report of the Interim Monitoring Officer attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Interim Monitoring Officer on a suggested change to the Council’s Constitution regarding the rules relating to Notices of Motion.

 

Whilst the existing rules stipulated a deadline for the submission of Notices of Motion to be considered at a meeting of the Council, this did not extend to any amendments to a Motion.  The suggested change was that a deadline be introduced for the submission of an amendment to a Motion.  This followed concerns about the late submission of amendments to Motions at recent meetings of Council and the subsequent debate.  The Committee discussed the merits of introducing a deadline for the submission of an amendment. However, whilst understanding the rationale it was felt on balance that the introduction of a deadline would remove flexibility and the means to resolve the recent issues was really with members using the existing rules.

 

RESOLVED (Yes: 4, No: 2)

 

That no change be made to the Council’s Constitution regarding the rules relating to Notices of Motion.

61.

Access to Information Procedure Rules pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Report of the Interim Monitoring Officer attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Interim Monitoring Officer on revised wording for the Access to Information Procedure Rules.  These were minor amendments aimed to improve clarity and reducing duplication.  The Committee was pleased to note the amendments relating to late reports and to the publication of minutes.

 

RESOLVED (Unanimously):

 

That the revised Access to Information Procedure Rules attached at Appendix A to the report be agreed and now be recommended to Council for approval.

62.

Whistleblowing Policy pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Report of the Interim Monitoring Officer attached.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report from the Interim Monitoring Officer on the updated Whistleblowing Policy attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

In respect of Para 4.1 (How does an employee raise a concern) it was suggested that the policy be amended to include, through their trade union as it was felt the trade union would be able to give advice/support to an employee about a concern.

 

Regarding monitoring and reviewing the policy it was suggested that the Monitoring Officer include reference to the policy in the Annual Report to the Standards Committee.

 

RESOLVED (Unanimously) that:

 

1.    the updated Whistleblowing Policy with an amended Para 4.1 (as indicated above) be approved; and

 

2.    the Monitoring Officer monitor and review the Whistleblowing Policy and in future reference to the policy be included in the Annual Report to the Standards Committee.