Venue: Committee Room, First Floor, BCP Civic Centre Annex, St Stephen's Rd, Bournemouth BH2 6LL. View directions
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To receive any apologies for absence from Councillors.
There were no apologies for absence.
Councillors D Butt and A Filer were present at the meeting on a virtual basis (without entitlement to vote).
The Leader of the Council, Councillor P Broadhead, was present at the meeting.
Councillor J Butt (Chair of Licensing Committee) and D Kelsey (Chair of Planning Committee) were present at the meeting on a virtual basis.
To receive information on any changes in the membership of the Committee.
Note – When a member of a Committee is unable to attend a meeting of a Committee or Sub-Committee, the relevant Political Group Leader (or their nominated representative) may, by notice to the Monitoring Officer (or their nominated representative) prior to the meeting, appoint a substitute member from within the same Political Group. The contact details on the front of this agenda should be used for notifications.
There were no appointed substitutes.
Declarations of Interests
Councillors are requested to declare any interests on items included in this agenda. Please refer to the workflow on the preceding page for guidance.
Declarations received will be reported at the meeting.
There were no declarations of interest.
To confirm as a correct record the minutes of the Meeting held on 16 February 2023.
RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting of the Committee on 16 February 2023 be confirmed as a correct record.
The Chair of the Licensing Committee had been invited to the current meeting of the Committee and had also attending the meeting of the Committee on 16 February 2023. She observed that her comments at the meeting with reference to the Licensing Committee were not recorded in the Minutes of that meeting. The Chairman referenced the importance of being able to obtain full value from meetings including particularly the contributions made by invited non-Members of the Committee on specific discussion items. It was agreed that the Minutes should reflect the subject of the valuable contribution made to the work of the Committee by other invited Members.
To receive any public questions, statements or petitions submitted in accordance with the Constitution. Further information on the requirements for submitting these is available to view at the following link:-
The deadline for the submission of public questions is 4 clear working days before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a statement is midday the working day before the meeting.
The deadline for the submission of a petition is 10 working days before the meeting.
The Monitoring Officer advised that following receipt of additional information, there was now one public statement received for submission to the Committee.
Public Statement from Julie Redman
In response to my question about the Bounce Back Challenge Fund at a Council meeting in November 2022, Councillor Broadhead said "Recent independent analysis of this array of support has been highly positive”. A FOI request was submitted asking for a copy of the "Recent independent analysis”. After at least 10 follow-up emails, we found out “Recent independent analysis” was referring to an internal audit report at least a year old. The charts and graphs in your report pack do not contain any customer feedback.10 emails for an answer, wastes everyone’s time. Customer satisfaction 0 out of 10.
The Chairman referred to emails from Councillor Phipps relating to matters contained in the Public Statement and informed the Committee that he was preparing a response to the points raised and that copies of his replies would be circulated to all members of the Committee with the objective of providing responses before the end of the current Council.
To consider the recommendations of the Constitution Review Working Group held on 1 March 2023.
As requested at its previous meeting, the Committee received a further report from the Constitution Review Working Group regarding provisions within the Constitution relating to the scheme of delegation to the Planning Committee. It was explained that, after the previous meeting, the Working Group had met again on 01 March 2023 to further review the matter in the light of discussion at the Committee on 16 February 2023. The options developed for discussion were included within a full report which had been circulated to the Committee prior to the meeting within an Agenda Supplement. The Chairman of the Planning Committee and senior Planning and Legal Officers had been closely involved in bringing together options for a complex range of issues and were present at the meeting to advise the Committee and respond to detailed questions.
It was explained that the first of these key areas was the representation referral process which, if the threshold were met, would require a planning related application to be considered by Planning Committee provided the intended Officer decision was contrary to 20 or more relevant representations relating to that application. The second area was the mechanism relating to the ability of a Councillor to call-in an application to Planning Committee but specifically within that, the time period within which a Councillor could exercise that call-in.
The Committee received advice about the effect and implications of a range of options.
RECOMMENDED that: -
(a) the amendments in the Constitution identified in option 2 and Appendix 2 as set out in item 6 of the agenda of Audit and Governance Committee dated 9 March 2023 be adopted subject to:
(i) the replacement of paragraph 2.2.8 as below but in relation to sub-paragraph (f) of that replacement paragraph either option 1 or option 2;
(ii) the addition of a new paragraph 2.7 as below; and
(iii) further amending part of the wording of paragraph 2.5.2 b) as below.
The wording of those further changes being as follows:
(i) Add replacement 2.2.8 with (f) being either as option 1 or option 2:
2.2.8 applications where there have been 20 or more representations from third parties provided that to count toward that number, a representation must:
(a) identify on the representation that it has come from a residence which is believed by the case officer (at the time of deciding whether the matter needs to go to Planning Committee) to be within one mile of any point measured from the relevant application site red line boundary;
(b) be received by the Council within the initial or any subsequent representation period as identified on the posted planning site notice relating to that application or any other related representation period provided by the Council if no planning site notice is posted;
(c) identify one or more issues that the case officer considers to be of material planning relevance to the application to which it relates;
(d) not have been withdrawn by the person making the representation prior to the time of deciding ... view the full minutes text for item 190.
Report to follow.
The Committee received a report from the Council’s External Auditors, Grant Thornton, setting out the findings of the Auditors following their audit of the Council’s statement of accounts for 2020/21. A copy of the Auditor’s full report had been circulated to the Committee prior to the meeting within an Agenda Supplement.
The Auditor reported that his work was now substantially complete and that he expected to be in a position very shortly to issue an unqualified opinion. It was explained that, following identification, adjustment and correction of a number of issues within the revised financial statements, there remained no outstanding issues requiring modification of the audit opinion. Throughout the period of lengthy delay the Committee had been closely involved and kept informed on how matters had progressed. The Committee was therefore already aware that the delay primarily arose from the need to await resolution of a national infrastructure issue for which a statutory override was not in place together with delays in receipt of the Pension Fund auditor’s letter of assurance.
It was accepted that the accounts of the BCP Council were complex as a result of bringing together three legacy Councils which had meant that the accounts were not straightforward and presented a number of challenges. Having said that, a number of areas for improvement had been identified for action as part of the audit and, going forward, new financial systems in the process of implementation were expected to improve the necessary focus.
The External Auditor highlighted particularly the audit approach to materiality and explained that the materiality thresholds for the audit remained at the initially reported levels. The report also set out a schedule of ‘significant risks’ which, in the Auditor’s judgement, required special audit consideration and included an informative commentary against each risk for consideration by Members. Under the heading of ‘Financial Statements – key judgements and estimates’ the report provided audit comments and a summary of the management approach together with a formal audit assessment against each item. There was also assessment of the internal controls in place.
The Committee also received the outcome of the ‘Value for Money’ (‘vfm’) as reported and presented to the Committee in October 2022.
In an Appendix to the report there was set out a detailed breakdown of the External Audit fees and the increased level of fees reflected the additional work required to prepare reports to the Committee on an ‘exception’ basis.
The Chief Finance Officer thanked those involved in the considerable amount of work undertaken to achieve an ‘unqualified’ audit opinion and to comply with the requirements of Local Government accounting. This had taken place during what had been an exceptional year for the community and just the second year of BCP Council. He provided reassurance for the Committee that the statutory requirements were taken very seriously and that the Council was constantly striving to address the issues raised within the audit.
There was also reference to the recently completed budget setting process which had been undertaken in ... view the full minutes text for item 191.
The report provides an update to the Committee since its last report in April 2022 of the Information Governance function within the Council.
The Team Leader of Information Governance presented a report, a copy of which appears at Appendix ‘A’ to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The report provided performance management information relating to Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs), Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) requests and other agency disclosure requests. There was a broadly steady trend with little overall change in comparison with previously presented information. The report also provided tabulated information about Internal Reviews and complaints.
The work of the Information Governance Board was described including the close working with senior Officers when required to provide oversight in specific areas. There was a desire to be able to work on an even closer basis with Officer teams across the Council and, to support the function, initial consideration was being given to a more advanced case management system which would be the subject of a future report.
It was reported that the 2021-22 Final Internal Audit report of March 2022 gave a Reasonable Assurance Audit opinion and that a follow-up review was currently underway as part of the 2022/23 Internal Audit Plan.
Whilst this review was not yet finalised, five of the 11 medium recommendations in the report have been confirmed as fully implemented with actions to implement the remaining recommendations in progress.
RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee
a) notes the Information Governance (IG) performance management information (PMI) for 2022/23(Q1 to Q3 – December 2022) including requests received under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs), Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) and other agency disclosure requests;
b) notes the current composition of the Information Governance Team;
c) notes that currently a review is underway on the Final Internal Audit report of March 2022.
This report updates Councillors on the position of the Council’s Corporate Risk Register. The main updates are as follows:
· The reporting of the Register continues in the updated format for this quarter;
· Material updates to the risks are summarised at sections 11-15.
The Risk and Insurance Manager presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'B' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The Committee received an interim update on the Council’s Corporate Risk Register for Quarter 4 of 2022/23 with material updates highlighted and listed for the Committee. Whilst routine review continued to be undertaken on a planned basis by the Corporate Management Board, a more strategic review was taking place in the next few days and the outcome of that review would be reported to the meeting of the Committee in July. It was explained that the strategic review would provide an opportunity to discuss and test each risk in more detail taking account of learning from within the Council and of best practice elsewhere. The review would also aim to ensure that risks were worded in such a way that they were as assessable as they could be and this was specifically welcomed by Members.
RESOLVED that the Audit and Governance Committee note the update provided relating to Corporate Risks.
This report sets out the Internal Audit Charter, approval of which by the Audit & Governance Committee is a requirement of the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS). A new Internal Audit Data Analytics Strategy, which sets out how Internal Audit will increase its use of data analytics to provide a greater level of assurance, to increase testing coverage and improve efficiency, has been added, together with a number of minor changes.
The Core Audit Plan, Anti-Fraud and Corruption Audit Plan, and detailed Quarter 1&2 plans will be brought to the next scheduled (main) Audit & Governance Committee in July 2023. This is later than normal due to the rearranging of the Committee calendar caused by the May 2023 local elections. As an interim measure, for this year only, the Head of Internal Audit & Management Assurance will circulate the Core Audit Plan, Anti-Fraud and Corruption Audit Plan, and detailed Quarter 1 plan to the members of the Audit & Governance Committee in April for awareness.
The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'C' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The report set out the Internal Audit Charter and Members were reminded that approval of the Charter by the Audit and Governance Committee was a requirement of the Public Sector Internal Audit Standards (PSIAS).
The Committee was informed that a new Internal Audit Data Analytics Strategy (Annexe 6 of the Charter), which set out how Internal Audit would increase its use of data analytics to provide a greater level of assurance, to increase testing coverage and improve efficiency, had been added, together with a number of minor changes.
The Core Audit Plan, Anti-Fraud and Corruption Audit Plan, and detailed Quarter 1 and Quarter 2 plans would be brought to the next scheduled Audit and Governance Committee in July 2023. It was explained that this was later than normal due to the rearranging of the Committee calendar during the Pre-Election period ahead of the May 2023 local elections.
For awareness and, as an interim measure for the current year only, the Head of Audit and Management Assurance advised that he would circulate the Core Audit Plan, Anti-Fraud and Corruption Audit Plan, and detailed Quarter 1 plan to members of the Audit and Governance Committee in April for awareness.
In response to questions, more information was provided about the intention to increase the use of Data Analytics by Internal Audit over the next three years to support the effective and efficient delivery of assurance.
In response to questions about the proposed reduction in time allocated towards audit activity in respect of the Council’s transformation programme, it was explained that partial alternative assurance (to internal audit) of this programme was being undertaken by the Transformation Board itself. In addition, the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had requested a cross-party scrutiny group and this was intended to facilitate additional involvement, test and challenge and to provide assurance to Councillors in relation to the transformation programme. Members were assured that, despite this, the way in which audit days were allocated included sufficient flexibility to ensure it remained possible at any stage to refocus the allocation as necessary.
RESOLVED that Audit and Governance Committee
a) approves the Internal Audit Charter, including the Internal Audit Data Analytics Strategy, and agree that the Chair of the Committee signs the document to record this approval (this may be a virtual sign off using email);
b) notes that the 2023/24 detailed Core Internal Audit Plan will be presented at the July 2023 Audit and Governance Committee;
c) notes the 2023/24 budget for the Internal Audit service as approved by Council as part of the 2023/24 Council Budget setting and Medium Term Financial Plan update in February 2023
This interim report details progress made on delivery of the 2022/23 Audit Plan for the period January to February (inclusive) 2023. The report highlights that:
Seven audit assignments have been completed, six Reasonable’ audit opinions and one ‘Consultancy’ audit review; Thirty three auditassignments arein progress; Implementationof auditrecommendations issatisfactory and none have required escalation to Audit & Governance Committee.
The Chief Internal Auditor is expecting to provide the annual overall opinion on the internal control environment through careful management of reduced resource on the high risk areas in the Audit Plan.
The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'D' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
The report detailed progress made on delivery of the 2022/23 Audit Plan for the period January to February (inclusive) 2023. The report highlighted that seven audit assignments had been completed with six ‘Reasonable’ audit opinions and one ‘Consultancy’ audit review. Thirty-three audit assignments were reported to be in progress. Implementation of audit recommendations was satisfactory and none have required escalation to Audit and Governance Committee.
The Head of Audit and Management Assurance reported that attempts to appoint to a vacant Auditor post continued to be unsuccessful but, through careful management of reduced resource covering the high risk areas in the Audit Plan, he was still expecting to be able to provide the overall ‘annual opinion’ on the adequacy of the internal control environment. In response to questions, it as confirmed that the annual opinion report would include for the Committee a year- on-year comparison of audit coverage areas, individual assurance opinions and the number and type of recommendations made.
RESOLVED that Audit and Governance Committee note progress made andissues arising onthe deliveryof the2022/23 InternalAudit Plan.
This report sets out the indicative list of reports to be considered by the Audit & Governance Committee for the 2023/24 municipal year in order to enable it to fulfil its terms of reference.
The Head of Audit and Management Assurance presented a report, a copy of which had been circulated to each Member and a copy of which appears as Appendix 'E' to these Minutes in the Minute Book.
This report set out the indicative list of reports to be considered by the Audit and Governance Committee for the 2023/24 municipal year to enable it to fulfil its terms of reference. It was explained that the Plan was indicative at this stage with the opportunity, after the elections, for the new Committee to itself identify subjects for the ‘extra’ meetings of the Committee. It was also confirmed that if any matters arose for the attention of the Committee during the interim period when there were no meetings of the Committee, these items would be circulated to members by email.
It was, however, agreed that during the period whilst the new Committee established its priorities going forward, an ‘extra’ meeting on 8th June 2023 would be premature and should be removed from the Forward Plan for this municipal year.
RESOLVED that subject to the removal of the proposed ‘extra’ meeting on 8 June 2023, the Audit and Governance Committee approves the indicative forward plan set out at Appendix A.
As this was the last meeting of the Committee during the current Council, the Chairman recorded his thanks to all Members for their support during the period of his Chairmanship. He thanked Members for their significant and constructive engagement in the process of discharging so effectively the function of audit and governance. He also recorded his thanks to the Officers involved in supporting the process.
The Committee noted that Councillor Mike Brooke was not seeking re-election to the Council and tribute was paid to his considerable contribution to the work of the Committee over many years.