Agenda and minutes

Audit and Governance Committee - Thursday, 16th September, 2021 6.30 pm

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Venue: Council Chamber, Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Media

Items
No. Item

AG22/21

Chairman's Introduction pdf icon PDF 91 KB

To receive any announcements on procedural matters.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman opened the meeting, introduced Committee members and officers in attendance, and outlined procedural matters of the meeting including noting the withdrawal of agenda item 9 (Amendments to the Constitution) from consideration.

AG23/21

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To receive any apologies for absence.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Britcher-Allan and Rands, and Parish Councillors Edwards and Mackonochie. Councillor Hamilton was not present.

AG24/21

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 66 KB

To receive any declarations of interest by members in items on the agenda in accordance with the Members’ Code of Conduct. For any advice on declarations of interest, please contact the Monitoring Officer before the meeting.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

AG25/21

Notification of Persons Registered to Speak pdf icon PDF 29 KB

To note any Visiting Members or members of the public wishing to speak, of which due notice has been given in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 18 or 19, and which item(s) they wish to speak on.

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Minutes:

With the withdrawal of agenda item 9, there were no visiting members or members of the public registered to speak.

AG26/21

Minutes of the meeting dated 24 August 2021 pdf icon PDF 165 KB

To approve the minutes of a previous meeting as a correct record. The only issue relating to the minutes that can be discussed is their accuracy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

No amendments were proposed.

 

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meeting dated 24 August 2021 be approved as a correct record.

AG27/21

Strategic Risk Review pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Lee Colyer, Director of Finance, Policy and Development introduced the report set out in the agenda and the Risk Owner, Chris Woodward.

 

Chris Woodward, Head of ICT for Mid-Kent Services, then presented key considerations within the report regarding risk of cyber security. These included:

·         Awareness – Involved mandatory staff training to highlight levels of risks. Carrying out of ‘mystery shopping’-style phishing campaigns on a regular and continuous basis to identify additional training opportunities. ICT also kept on top of latest developments and were subscribed to daily alerts and notifications regarding risks and up-to-date information.

·         Prevention – Regular rigorous testing and state of the art technology to monitor system 24/7.

·         Recovery – Sophisticated back-up system in place meaning Mid-Kent were the leading authority in Kent in this process.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

·         A recent visit to facility in Maidstone had been reassuring that ICT Services managed risk in the right manner, which the report seemed to confirm.

·         Ransomware had been the continuous main source of cyberattack to systems and had been highly damaging but easiest to fall for, which training targeted specifically due to the severity of attacks.

·         Response times to breaches varied depending on sophistication and nature of attack. Some hid themselves until they were lodged in the backup system. Of 700 known reported attacks, only 10 were operationally disruptive.

·         Councillors were subject to similar phishing operations as officers to identify security breaches and training opportunities. Risks posed by Councillor opening malware on corporate mailbox was the same as risks posed by officers. IT systems were good at spotting attacks, but people were the weak link due to curiosity.

 

General discussion:

·         In relation to risk factor 3, the new waste and recycling contract had review built in but was subject to nationwide issues which caused delays, such as staffing of HGV drivers. Risk Owner of Contract Management invited to next meeting to provide assurance of how live issues have been handled regarding this contract.

 

RESOLVED – That the risk management report and arrangements for managing strategic risk be noted.

AG28/21

Draft Financial Report and Audit Findings pdf icon PDF 186 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Jane Fineman, Head of Finance and Procurement introduced the report and findings set out in the agenda, alongside Joanne Brown and Oliver Durbin from the Council’s external auditors Grant Thornton. Comments included:

·         No changes had been made to the substance of the report since publication, only rectifying typos.

·         Grant Thornton would publish an unqualified audit opinion and had no recommendations for management. Completion of the report had been delayed by Coronavirus with minor issues pending but these would not affect the conclusion and sign off of the report.

·         Rigorous testing had been undertaken of various processes – satisfied in all tests.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

·         The Finance team were commended for completing work and such a good performance under very difficult circumstances during the pandemic.

 

RESOLVED –

1.    That the Grant Thornton’s Audit Findings Report (Appendix B to the report) be noted;

2.    That the draft Statement of Accounts and the Annual Governance Statement (Appendix A to the report) be approved; and

3.    That the Chairman and the Director of Finance, Policy and Development be authorised to sign a Letter of Representation based on the draft Statement of Accounts and the Annual Governance Statement (Appendix A to the report) and the Audit Findings Report (Appendix B to the report).

AG29/21

Update on Complaints received under the Members' Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 186 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Gary Rowland, Senior Lawyer for Corporate Governance introduced the report as set in the agenda. Comments included:

·         Since the last Audit and Governance Committee meeting the Monitoring Officer had received 6 complaints, all relating to Parish or Town Councillors details of which were set out in section 2.3 of the report.

·         A typo was noted at paragraph 2.4 of the report, which should have read Tunbridge Wells, not Maidstone.

 

Discussion and questions from Members included the following:

·         All complaints were treated seriously and the process had been the same for each complaint received. A preliminary test was undertaken to check if complaint would be proceeded.

 

RESOLVED – That the update on complaints received under the Members’ code of Conduct be noted.

AG30/21

Amendments to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 280 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Item withdrawn from agenda to allow further consideration by the Constitution Review Working Party.

AG31/21

Minor Changes to the Constitution (for noting) pdf icon PDF 152 KB

To consider and decide on the recommendations set out in the associated report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Quigley recommended that this item be referred back to the Constitution Review Working Party for further consideration.

 

Patricia Narebor, Head of Legal Partnership, confirmed that there was a duty to keep the Constitution up to date and without discrepancies, the changes were minor in nature and had been made under the Monitoring Officer’s delegated authority. However, there was no harm in delaying their implementation to allow full understanding of the changes.

 

RESOLVED – That agenda item 10 be referred back to the Constitution Review Working Party with the aim of bringing it forward to the next Audit and Governance Committee meeting.

AG32/21

Future Work Programme pdf icon PDF 49 KB

To consider the Committee’s future work programme.

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Minutes:

The Committee’s work programme was presented for members’ information by the Chairman, in that training would restart on Internal Audit after the November meeting. Training on External Audit and the Statement of Accounts would be scheduled in due course. Further training requirements should be brought to the Chairman’s attention outside of the meeting.

 

The importance of training new members noted.

AG33/21

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To consider any other items which the Chairman decides are urgent, for reasons to be stated, in accordance with Section 100B (4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

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Minutes:

There was no urgent business for consideration.

AG34/21

Date of Next Meeting pdf icon PDF 28 KB

To note the date of the next scheduled meeting is Tuesday 23 November 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for Tuesday 23 November 2021.