Agenda and minutes

Audit and Governance Committee - Tuesday, 27th September, 2022 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Democratic Services Team 


No. Item


Chair's Introduction pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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The Chairman opened the meeting, introduced Committee members and officers in attendance, and outlined procedural matters of the meeting.


Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Apologies for absence as reported at the meeting.

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Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Barrass and Pope.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 65 KB

To receive any declarations of interest by Members in items on the agenda.


For any advice on declarations of interest, please contact the Monitoring Officer.

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No declarations of interest were received.


Notification of Visiting Members wishing to speak (in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 18): pdf icon PDF 29 KB

Members should indicate which item(s) they wish to speak on and the nature of their concern/question/request for clarification.

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No notifications of any visiting members wishing to speak had been received.


Minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee dated pdf icon PDF 169 KB

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1.    That the minutes of the Audit and Governance Committee dated 26 July 2022 be approved as a correct record.


Future Work Programme as at 30 August 2022 pdf icon PDF 88 KB

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1.    That the Future Work Programme as at 30 August 2022, be noted.


Update on complaints received under the Members’ Code of Conduct pdf icon PDF 176 KB

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Claudette Valmond presented the report which provided an update on complaints received under the Members’ Code of Conduct in the period 1 March 2022 to 31 August 2022 as per the agenda.


Discussion and questions from Members and Officer clarification included:

              i.        No matters of significance were discussed.




1.    That the update on complaints received under the Members’ Code of Conduct, be noted.


Strategic Risk Review September 2022 pdf icon PDF 103 KB

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Lee Colyer, Director for Finance, Policy and Development provided and explanation of the report and introduced William Benson, Chief Executive who presented the report which set out the strategic risks identified by the Council and currently being managed and tracked by senior management. The report provided a current update on the evaluated threat level and controls in place for each risk issue.


·         Risk 5: National policy changes in short term that impact negatively on TWBC; and

·         Risk 7: Capacity fails to keep pace with ambition; and


Discussion and questions from Members and Officer clarification included:

              i.        It was advised that the potential negative financial impacts to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) following the mini budget were not yet known however, it was suspected that interest rates, investments, contracts managed by TWBC and the reversal of National Insurance would be affected.

             ii.        When asked why TWBC did not have a ‘gardening leave’ clause in its contract, it was stated that employees were recruited openly and fairly, and it was felt that the clause would be detrimental to the Council as an employer and their efforts to recruit, it also increased costs.

            iii.        The introduction of a ‘gardening leave’ clause to employee contracts to be used optionally would be looked into by HR as requested by Members.

           iv.        It was confirmed that the Local Plan was prepared in full consultation with Members at all stages from Planning Policy Working Group to Full Council and was agreed cross party.

             v.        Members were advised that the Zurich the Council’s Insurer had undertaken a workshop with the new Cabinet and started the process of formulating a new risk register. A follow up to that workshop was scheduled to take place in October and the outcome of the meeting would come to the Audit and Governance Committee for approval.

           vi.        It was felt that Zurich needed to note the potential change in political leadership.

          vii.        Members were reminded that the Strategic Risk Register was brought before the Audit and Governance Committee and was open to have new risks added if Members were so minded.




1.    That the risk management report and arrangements for managing strategic risk, be noted.



Draft Financial Report and Audit Findings 21_22 pdf icon PDF 124 KB

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Jane Fineman, Head of Finance, Procurement and Parking presented the report as per the agenda.


Joanne Brown, Audit Partner Grant Thornton (GT) was introduced and presented the Draft Annual Financial  Report for 2021/22 as per Appendix A.


Omer Await, Audit Manager Grant Thornton (GT) was introduced and presented the Audit Findings for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council as per Appendix B.


Discussion and questions from Members and Officer clarification included:

              i.        It was confirmed that the accounts before Members contained prior year comparatives for the previous financial year, which was standard practice across local Government accountancy code of practice.

             ii.        GT confirmed that the Council’s financial management arrangements was looked at within the Value For Money (VFM) section of the external audit and that was where any areas for improvement or best practice were highlighted once completed.

            iii.        It was stated that a requirement for the finance team from GT was that they ensured all superfluous information was removed from the accounts when presented.

           iv.        The suggestion of a separate report that showed prior year comparisons greater than one year and presented to the Audit & Governance Committee was welcomed. 

             v.        Whilst Remote Audit did work and GT received satisfactory answers to their queries and it was a robust process it did lead to some inefficiencies therefore, GT advised they would look to have a hybrid model going forward into 2022/2023 which ensured a good working model.

           vi.        GT advised that the quality of the report was considered to provide good quality financial information.

          vii.        It was recognised by GT that the Council managed its financial position well with a healthy balance sheet in terms of assets and cash and low borrowing however, the pressures of the pandemic, the cost of living crisis and inflation on local authorities going into 2022/2023 was acknowledged.

         viii.        It was stated that across the sector the increased workload of finance teams and the challenge of capacity and recruitment meant it had become extremely difficult to manage the financial positions of Councils and was predicted to increase over time. 

           ix.        Training sessions were available for Members and topics for those were at the hands of Members and what they felt would be beneficial.

             x.        Since publication of the paper it was confirmed that some of the outstanding items for approval listed on page 178 of the report had been completed and signed off. The remaining items not completed did not raise a concern for GT in terms of the audit opinion or the signing off the accounts by the end of September.




1.    That the Grant Thornton’s Audit Findings Report – Appendix B, be noted.


2.    That the draft Statement of Accounts and the Annual Governance Statement – Appendix A, be approved.


3.    That the Chairman and the Director of Finance, Policy and Development to sign a Letter of Representation based on Appendix A and the Audit Findings Report, be authorised.


Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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There was no urgent business for consideration.


Date of Next Meeting Tuesday 22 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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The next meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee was scheduled for Tuesday 22 November 2022.