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Question and Statements from the Public
To take any questions or statements from members of the Public.
A Member of the Public gave notice of a statement but did not attend the Committee Meeting.
Declarations of Interest
Members are asked to declare the existence and nature of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests in respect of any item of business to be considered at the meeting.
No declarations of any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests in respect of any item of business to be considered at the meeting were made by Members.
The Committee is asked to confirm as a true record the Minutes of the Meeting of the Committee held on the 28 September 2023 (attached) and to authorise the Chair to sign them.
The Committee confirmed as a true record the Minutes of the Meeting of theCommittee held on 28 September 2023 and authorised the Chair to sign them.
This report presents management’s responses to Grant Thornton’s enquiries. In accordance with best practice, these items must be presented to Committee.
The Committee received a report presenting the management’s responses to Grant Thornton’s enquiries. In accordance with best practice, these items were presented to the Committee.
The following matters were considered:
a) Management Response. A Member of the Committee raised that some matters have come to light within the Council that might not have been known to Officers when they compiled the responses in Appendix 1 and wished to draw Officers attention to questions 2-4 on page 34 to ensure that the answers provided are accurate. The Chair responded to assure the Committee that he will be discussing it with Officers to ensure that everything is in order. The Monitoring Officer informed the Committee that the report looks backwards and relates to the 2022/23 financial year, so any assurances regarding litigation and legal matters would have been provided by the previous monitoring officer, who was in place until May 2023, and what they were aware of as of that date.
b) Scheme of Delegation. A Member of the Committee asked when the Committee will get sight of the Scheme of Delegation Report. The Monitoring Officer responded to inform the Committee that the proposal at present is that a report will be coming to Full council on the 12th of December.
c) Statutory Services. A Member of the Committee raised a query regarding page 39 question 2, where it talks about management not being aware of any factors affecting statutory services. The Member asked if there are changes coming to waste management which could have an impact on services and why there is no reference to that in the response provided. The Chief Accountant responded to inform the Committee that the Government Waste Strategy, which has been on the horizon for a number of years, might have an impact on the way the services are delivered, but it will not affect the overall statutory service being provided and that will continue unchanged. The Chief Accountant continued to explain that there might be operational changes, but the statutory duty will still be complied with, and the question raised is in reference to ceasing statutory duties rather than any changes in how they’re being delivered. The Chair informed the Committee that they have spoken to the Waste Services Manager and who has set out that there are a lot of conflicting reports regarding the Government Waste Strategy, and they are still waiting on the final results before any further comment can be made. The Chair highlighted that any operational changes won’t come into effect until next year.
Following consideration, the Committee resolved to;
(5 for, 1 abstaining and the Chair not voting)
(1) Consider and approve the management responses to Grant Thornton’s enquiries, as set out in Appendix 1.
The Council’s Code of Corporate Governance - ‘the Code’ - was updated and approved by the Committee in November 2022. The Code sets out the principles of good governance and the arrangements the Council has in place to ensure it conducts its business in accordance with them. As part of best practice, the Code is reviewed annually by officers. Attached at Appendix 1 is an updated Code. No major changes have been made, purely minor administrative updates.
The Council’s Code of Corporate Governance - ‘the Code’ - was updated and approved by the Committee in November 2022. The Code sets out the principles of good governance and the arrangements the Council has in place to ensure it conducts its business in accordance with them. As part of best practice, the Code is reviewed annually by officers. The Committee received the update Code as Appendix 1 to the report. No major changes were made, purely minor administrative updates.
The following matters were considered:
a) Spelling Mistake. A Member of the Committee highlighted a spelling mistake on page 58 where the sentence included ‘offices’ instead of ‘officers’. The Interim Director of Corporate Services confirmed to the Committee that the amended line would read, ‘A code of conduct for officers is in place’.
b) Transparency Page. A Member of the Committee asked if the line that has been removed from the Transparency Page Website bullet point on page 68, is confirmation that the project has been completed. The Interim Director of Corporate Services informed the Committee that the project has not be completed yet, but the team responsible are working on it and hope for it to be delivered soon.
c) Urgent Decision. A Member of the Committee asked about principles B and G of good corporate governance as set out on page 55, which detail openness, stakeholder engagement, transparency, reporting and effective accountability. The Member referenced these two principles when discussing a point raised at Strategy and Resources Committee, held on the 14th of November 2023, regarding 3 urgent decisions, of which only one had been reported in MemberNews. The Member wished to check that the right processes are in place for Members to see what decisions are being made in due time. The Interim Director of Corporate Services responded to inform the Committee that the Chair of Strategy and Resources confirmed at the 14th of November 2023 Meeting, that a response would be provided on this matter. The Interim Director of Corporate Services continued to explain that of the 3 urgent decisions in question, only one was not published on MemberNews, and this was purely down to human error and an officer mistake. The Interim Director of Corporate Services informed the Committee that there is a process to ensure transparency and that all decisions are taken in consultation with the Chair of the relevant Committee, it is then the process to publish the decision that has been taken to MemberNews and to bring any decisions as urgent items to the subsequent Committees at the next available opportunity.
d) Live Meeting Webcasts. A Member of the Committee asked why YouTube livestreams of Committee Meetings do not remain on YouTube indefinitely, as it is free to leave them up, and queried whether there are other considerations as to why they cannot remain online for the public to see an accurate record of the meeting. The Interim Director of Corporate Services responded to state that Recording Retention is an ... view the full minutes text for item 71.
This report provides the committee with an overview of the systems and processes the council has in place to prevent, detect and address fraud.
The Committee received a report providing an overview of the systems and processes the Council has in place to prevent, detect, and address fraud.
Following consideration, the Committee unanimously resolved to:
(1) Note and comment on the contents of the report, the measures in place and the work being undertaken to prevent and detect fraud.
This report presents the Committee with its annual Work Programme.
The Committee received a report presenting its annual Work Programme.
The following matters were considered:
a) Scrutiny Items. A Member of the Committee queried if Scrutiny items would be dealt with on an ad-hoc basis and therefore, would not be added to the workplan.The Interim Director of Corporate Services confirmed to the Committee that this assessment is correct, however, it is important to be mindful of resource for any form of scrutiny activity and that this kind of scrutiny activity isn’t something which would take place at a Committee Meeting, but would be done outside of the Committee, with a report potentially coming back to the Committee detailing on any findings. A Member of the Committee raised that the process as to how ad-hoc scrutiny items are brought to the Committee, could be discussed at the February 2024 Meeting, to ensure that the issues that the Committee would like to see and scrutinise are actually brought before it. The Chair responded to inform the Committee that if a Member would like an item to be brough to the Committee, they should email them within a sensible time frame so it can be considered and reports produced.
b) Changes to the Workplan. A Member of the Committee raised that a few items had been moved on the workplan to later meetings, with one item, the Compliance with Surveillance Cameras Code of Practice, having been removed from the workplan entirely, and queried why these changes had been made. The Interim Director of Corporate Services informed the Committee that the Code of Practice for Surveillance Cameras is an item that has come to Audit and Scrutiny Committee in the past but now sits under the Crime & Disorder Committee. The Interim Director of Corporate Services explained to the Committee that the Annual Complaints report was moved from the November 2023 Meeting to the March 2024 Meeting due to resourcing issues around producing the report. The Interim Director of Corporate Services continued to explain that the Council is currently going through a review with the Local Government Ombudsman for a Code of Practice relating to complaints, therefore, with the permission of the Chair, a report will be brought to the Committee to discuss the response to the Code of Practice, which the LGO is seeking to introduce, and then use that as the basis for the Annual Complaints Report. The Member asked if in future, if items are removed or delayed on the Workplan, a sentence is included to explain why the changes have been made. The Interim Director of Services confirmed that could be done going forward.
c) Scheme of Delegation. A Member of the Committee asked whether a report regarding the extent of the Scheme of Delegation issue and how the situation arose would be presented to the Committee in due course, or whether the report will just be an update on the current state of the Scheme of Delegation and how the issue was rectified. The Monitoring Officer responded to inform ... view the full minutes text for item 73.