Agenda item

Minutes of previous meeting



That the minutes of the meeting of the Audit Committee held on 23 November 2017 be confirmed as a correct record.


Matters arising (for information):


Bundred report and Annual Governance Statement tracker:  Councillor Stevens advised that he had held a further meeting with officers to look in detail at business plans linked to budget savings (with reference to Action B23 from the Bundred review).


Action points arising from discussion (at the 21 September 2017 Audit Committee) of the Statement of Accounts for the year ended 31 March 2017: Councillor Stevens confirmed that he had received a briefing note from officers with further detail about how the valuation of the Council’s housing stock is carried out.  He would be seeking a further meeting with officers to discuss this.  Councillor Pearce confirmed that he had received a briefing note with further detail about how valuation decisions on investment properties are made and assessed/kept under review.


Public forum statements from Councillor Eddy and Councillor Hopkins regarding the recruitment of the former Chief Executive:  The Chair reminded members that a joint letter on this subject had been sent to BDO (the Council’s external auditor) by Councillors Eddy, Hopkins and O’Rourke.  Greg Rubins advised that BDO’s written response regarding this matter would be sent shortly to the councillors concerned.


Public forum question from Councillor Denyer regarding the Mayor’s forward plan and urgent key decisions taken at Cabinet meetings:  In discussion, the committee expressed general concern about the number of occasions where, under the constitution’s urgency provisions, urgent key decisions had been taken, sometimes at very short notice, at Cabinet meetings.   Whilst it was acknowledged that the relevant scrutiny chair was consulted on these occasions, such circumstances did not allow any realistic opportunity for pre-scrutiny of these decisions.  There was also a particular concern in relation to urgent key decisions taken about some contract renewals, where the authority must have known the contract renewal dates well in advance and it was difficult to understand why advance notice of these decisions could not have been given in the Mayor’s forward plan.


Whilst noting that it was a requirement that a minimum notice period of 28 calendar days should be given in the Mayor’s forward plan of all key decisions to be taken at Cabinet meetings, members were also concerned  that there was insufficient detail included in the plan about anticipated key decisions beyond the minimum 28 day key decision notice period.  In terms of the effective management of the authority, it would be much more satisfactory for the forward plan to give as much information as possible about anticipated key decisions for the next 12 months, and it was surprising that so little information about this was currently available.  There were some decisions that are known will be required well in advance and these could be included in the plan without full detail being given at an early stage.  The lack of advance information also seriously inhibited the ability of the Overview and Scrutiny Management Board to identify, at an early stage, those key decisions that would potentially benefit from pre-scrutiny input.


At the conclusion of this discussion, it was agreed that the Chair should write to the Mayor / Mayor’s Office expressing the above views on behalf of the committee, also requesting a response back to the committee.  The committee also noted that these issues were being looked at as part of Internal Audit’s review of the Council’s decision making process.


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