Agenda and minutes

Audit and Governance Committee - Tuesday, 28th November, 2023 6.30 pm

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

Contact: Democratic Services Team 

Media

Items
No. Item

AG131/23

Chair's Introduction pdf icon PDF 92 KB

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Minutes:

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

AG132/23

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Apologies for absence as reported at the meeting.

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Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Independent Member Geoff Turner.

AG133/23

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 67 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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Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

AG134/23

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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Minutes:

There were no members of the public or visiting Members registered to speak.

AG135/23

Minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee dated 19 September 2023 pdf icon PDF 161 KB

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Minutes:

RESOLVED – That the minutes of the Audit and Governance Committee dated 19 September 2023 be approved as a correct record.

AG136/23

Future Work Programme as at 11 October 2023 pdf icon PDF 107 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee’s work programme was presented for members’ information.   

 

RESOLVED – That the Future Work Programme as at 11 October 2023 and the upcoming training in March 2024, be noted.

AG137/23

Proposed Changes to the Constitution pdf icon PDF 179 KB

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Minutes:

Claudette Valmond, Head of Legal Partnership presented the report as per the agenda and highlighted the significant changes as per the appendices.

 

Questions from Members and Officer clarification included:

·        Appendices A, B and C - Updated legislation relating to animal licensing regimes. The proposed amendments were taken as read.

·        Appendix D - Amendments to Cabinet portfolios. The proposed amendment was taken as read.

·        Appendix E – Public disturbance at meetings. It was confirmed that the original wording had changed from “the Mayor will…” to “the Mayor, at their discretion may…”. Following discussion, the proposed amendment was taken as read.

·        Appendix F – Supplementary questions at Cabinet. The proposed amendment was taken as read.

·        Appendix G - Unusable reserves. The proposed amendment was taken as read.

·        Appendix H - Authority to discuss change to assets. It was explained that the current process meant that the Section (S)151 Officer had overall responsibility for the use of and disposal of all assets and it did not restrict Heads of Service or Councillors from starting negotiations or discussions with third parties without authority, or an understanding of the Council's legal ownership of particular assets. The proposed amendment was considered a further safeguard and was taken as read.

·        Appendix I - Virement to budget transfer. The proposed amendment was taken as read.

·        Appendix J – Asset Disposal. Officers advised that the increase to £100,000 would be consistent with the operation and practice of Local Authorities throughout Kent and considered that it made sense to bring the amount in line. The proposed amendment was taken as read.

·        Appendix K – Signing of acceptance of office. The proposed amendment was taken as read.

·        Appendix L – Constitution amendment of childcare allowance template. The proposed amendment was taken as read.

·        Appendix M - Constitution review amendment log. This contained a spreadsheet which showed a number of amendments, of which the most significant were highlighted; those included:

o   Part 2, Article 7, Paragraph 7.3.2 (a). It was clarified to Members that savings or expenditure up to £100,000 went to S151 Officer/Director of Finance, up to £375,000 went to the Portfolio Holder and in excess of £375,000 went to Cabinet. It was acknowledged that the amount had first been set in 2010 and therefore had 13 years of compound interest to consider. Following discussion the proposed amendment was taken as read.

o   Part 2, Article 9, 9.3.2. The proposed amendment was taken as read.

o   Part 3, Table 2, Paragraph 36. The proposed amendment was taken as read.

o   Part 3, Table 2, New paragraph 37. Following discussion it was proposed that the suggested amendment be rejected and replaced with the wording; “All transactions of leases and other occupational rights in relation to Royal Victoria Place up to an income amount of £1,000,000 or an expenditure amount of up to £375,000 with the approval of the Chair of the Investment Advisory Panel”.

o   Part 4 Council Procedure Rules, 8.1.3.  ...  view the full minutes text for item AG137/23

AG138/23

Strategic Risk Register Report pdf icon PDF 124 KB

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Minutes:

Gary Stevenson, Head of Housing, Health and Environment presented the report as per the agenda.

 

Risk Scenario 3: Management of contracts and contractors

 

Questions from Members and Officer Included:

·        Officers confirmed that the mitigation of the Supplier Failure Plan produced could be made available to Members as a confidential document. This related to sports centre providers specifically and portfolio holders had been involved in that signing.

·        Officers were aware of the 3 large contracts up for renewal in 2027. It was recognised that there was a need to resource appropriately with legal colleagues, property colleagues as well as service colleagues and plans had already been drafted providing the opportunity for those service specifications to be reviewed and for member input to happen.

·        It was confirmed that the risk register for Royal Victoria Place would be brought before Members at the meeting in March 2024.

 

RESOLVED:

 

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

AG139/23

Internal Audit Assurance Progress Report pdf icon PDF 69 KB

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Minutes:

Katherine Woodward, Head of Mid Kent Audit presented her report as per the agenda.

 

Questions from Members and Officer clarification included:

·        Since publication of the report, Officers updated on the outstanding actions:

o   3 related to Building Control audit. The service had confirmed that those have been completed, evidence to demonstrate this was to follow.

o   8 actions related to the Declaration of Interest audit completed last year. All of those actions were in progress. Some of those actions were due to be resolved with the wider changes to the constitution as a result of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s (TWBC) review of governance arrangements.

o   3 recommendations were being liaised with a software developer.

o   5 recommendations related to Procurement. As this was a shared service only two related specifically to TWBC and they were being worked on in consultation with colleagues in Legal as they related to amendments to the constitution.

o   4 related to performance management and had now all been actioned.

·        Officers confirmed that the recommendations related to consultations were within an audit that was pre 2022-2023, that was 2021-2022 and all of those recommendations were completed.

·        It was advised that with regard to the the 3 high risk recommendations from 2021-2022:

o   2 of them related to the Declarations of Interest audit which the project team were working on and;

o   1 of them related to performance management which has now been signed off.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.     That the work completed so far on the 2023/24 Audit & Assurance plan, be noted.

AG140/23

Urgent Business pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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Minutes:

There was no urgent business for consideration.

 

·       Councillor McMillan raised a point related to the Planning Call In procedure and the 5 weeks allocated from the time the planning application goes in.

 

It was proposed that a recommendation be brought to the Constitution Review Working Party to increase the 5 week period to 6 weeks to allow for sufficient time should the period fall over a holiday season or elections.

 

·       Councillor McMillan also raised a point about approved outline planning applications and the concern that once approved, there was no opportunity for the Parish Council or Borough Members to call in the application should the applicant review their outline application and not submit a new planning application.

It was proposed that a recommendation be brought to the Constitution Review Working Party to review.

 

Following discussion Members agreed to put both recommendations to the Constitution Review Working Party to be reviewed.

AG141/23

Date of Next Meeting 12 March 2024 pdf icon PDF 28 KB

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Minutes:

Members were reminded that an extraordinary meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee was scheduled to take place on Tuesday 30 January 2024 to discuss the Governance Review.

 

Following that the next meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee was scheduled for Tuesday 12 March 2024.