Agenda and minutes

Audit Committee
Wednesday, 2nd May, 2018 4.00 pm

Contact: Ian Hird  0117 92 22384

Items
No. Item

168.

Welcome, apologies and safety information

SAFETY INFORMATION – PLEASE NOTE:

1. There are no planned fire alarm tests or drills. If the alarm sounds, please exit

the room via the main entrance lobby at the front of the building.

2. Please then exit the building via the front ramp and assemble at the fire

assembly point, which is on the paved area between the side entrance of the

cathedral and the roundabout at the Deanery Road end of the building.

3. Please follow the instructions of the fire wardens and security staff on hand.

Please do not return to the building until instructed to do so by fire wardens.

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and attendees introduced themselves.

 

Apologies were received from Adebola Adebayo (independent member), Cllr Barry Clark and Cllr Liz Radford.

 

It was noted that Cllr Jo Sergeant was attending this meeting as a substitute for Cllr Barry Clark.

 

The Chair drew attention to the safety information as detailed on the agenda.

 

169.

Declarations of interest

To note any declarations of interest from councillors. They are asked to indicate

the relevant agenda item, the nature of the interest and in particular whether it

is a disclosable pecuniary interest.

 

Any declaration of interest made at the meeting which is not on the register of

interests should be notified to the Monitoring Officer for inclusion.

Minutes:

None.

170.

Public forum

Up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item. As this is an extraordinary meeting of the committee, public forum business must relate specifically to the business for which this extraordinary meeting has been arranged.

 

Any member of the public or councillor may participate in public forum. Public

forum items should be emailed to democratic.services@bristol.gov.uk

 

Please note that the following deadlines will apply in relation to this meeting:

 

Questions - Written questions must be submitted by 5.00 pm on Thursday 26 April

2018 at latest.

 

Petitions and statements - Petitions / written statements must be submitted by

12.00 noon on Tuesday 1 May 2018 at latest.

Minutes:

The committee noted a statement received from Cllr Mark Brain relating to agenda item 4 – Proposed constitution changes, with particular reference to the proposal around an independent person chairing the Audit Committee.

 

At this point in the meeting, the Chair raised the following matters:

 

a. Date of next meeting:

Following discussion, it was agreed that the next meeting of the committee would be rescheduled from 2.00 pm on 24 May 2018 to 2.00 pm on 31 May 2018.

 

b. Letter received from three councillors requesting an Audit Committee inquiry around employment issues regarding former Chief Executives of the authority:

The Chair referred to a letter she had received from three councillors requesting that the Audit Committee should set up an inquiry around a number of employment issues regarding former Chief Executives of the authority.  This request could not be considered at today’s extraordinary meeting of the committee.  Officers would be preparing a report (to be considered at the 31 May meeting of the committee) setting out the issues and recommending how the committee responds to the councillors and to the issues raised.

 

171.

Proposed constitution changes pdf icon PDF 184 KB

The Audit Committee is asked to comment on the proposed changes to the constitution (Appendix A) and to discuss and comment on the following documents:

·         Member Code of Conduct  - Appendix B

·         Member / Officer Protocol - Appendix C

·         Audit Committee Terms of Reference - specifically chairing of the committee - Appendix D

·         Proposed Value and Ethics Committee Terms of Reference - Appendix E

·         Finance (to follow) and Procurement regulations - Appendix F

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The committee reviewed the following documents setting out details of proposed constitutional change ahead of the 22 May Annual Council meeting:

·         Appendix A - an overview of the proposed constitutional changes, together with an update on the current status of each proposal, including a summary of proposed changes to the arrangements for Full Council meetings.

·         Appendix B - proposed changes to the Member Code of Conduct.

·         Appendix C - proposed changes to the Member/Officer Protocol.

·         Appendix D - proposed changes to the Audit Committee terms of reference, including a proposal that the committee should be chaired by an independent person.

·         Appendix E - a proposal to establish a Values and Ethics Committee, and the proposed terms of reference for the committee.

·         Appendix F – refreshed finance regulations and procurement rules.

 

The committee’s comments on each of the above documents are summarised below:

 

Changes to the arrangements for Full Council (as summarised in Appendix A):

a.      Executive debate slot: Disappointment was expressed that the Executive debate slot at Full Council meetings was not being progressed.  It was felt this would have increased public interest in Full Council meetings and enabled early cross-party engagement in policy development.

b.      Public forum: The current custom and practice around enabling councillors to substitute for / present statements at Full Council on behalf of their constituents should continue and potentially be formalised in the constitution.

c.       Petitions: The proposed increase in the petition threshold (number of signatures required to enable a petition to be debated at Full Council) would lead to a reduction in the number of petitions able to be debated at Full Council, thereby reducing citizen engagement in the democratic process.

d.      Motions: Greater flexibility should be considered around the time allocation for motions and the length of speeches to enable, where possible, both the “golden” and “silver” motions to be considered.  This could include reducing the time allocation for the “golden” motion depending on the topic involved and the level of public interest.

Appendix B – proposed changes to the Member Code of Conduct:

a.      The proposed inclusion of councillors’ non-pecuniary interests as a requirement within the Code was welcomed and felt to be positive.

b.      In relation to section 1 of the Code (General conduct), it was suggested that additional narrative should be included to further explain the principle of  “selflessness” as it applies to holders of public office.

c.       The revised wording of principle 4.1 (Behaving with integrity) was particularly welcomed, together with the removal of the clause about “not bringing the office of elected member or the authority into disrepute.”  Members felt it was very important that they retained the freedom to be able raise “their heads above the parapet” in drawing attention to issues of genuine concern.

d.      Discussion took place around councillor attendance at meetings.  Whilst it was obviously important that councillors attended meetings of those committees they were appointed to (which was recorded and was a matter of public record), the record of attendance at meetings in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 171.