Agenda and minutes
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Contact: Democratic Services
Declarations of Interest
At this point in the meeting, Members are asked to declare:
· any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests
· any prejudicial interests or
· any disclosable pecuniary interests
which they might have in respect of business on this agenda.
Members were asked to declare any personal interests not included on the Register of Interests, any prejudicial interests or any disclosable pecuniary interests which they may have in respect of business on the agenda.
Cllr Mason declared a prejudicial interest as the current Sheriff of York regarding any decisions which would effect the role of the Civic Party or its members in item 6 of the agenda Review of the Constitution.
To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 8 September 2021.
Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 8 September 2021 be approved and then signed by the Chair as a correct record, subject to the amendment of grammatical errors.
At this point in the meeting members of the public who have registered to speak can do so. Members of the public may speak on agenda items or on matters within the remit of the committee.
Please note that our registration deadlines have changed to 2 working days before the meeting, in order to facilitate the management of public participation at remote meetings. The deadline for registering at this meeting is 5:00pm on Monday 18 October 2021.
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It was reported that there had been three registrations to speak at the meeting under the Council’s Public Participation Scheme.
Brian Watson spoke on behalf of a group of former Sheriff’s of York to question the need for a deputy Sheriff in the Council’s proposed Constitution. He noted that an interim Sheriff had been used previously but this would be different to a deputy, he also highlighted that additional cover for the Lord Mayor was provided by the previous Lord Mayor.
Andy Mendus raised a number of questions relating to the internal audit reports including Council Tax and NNDR’s and data corruption issues, whether there had been too relaxed a approach to cyber security when auditing York schools, and relating to Council projects he was concerned that Gateways were not being used correctly but being treated as a tick box exercise.
Gwen Swinburn raised consultations on the budget and noted that she felt the Council lagged behind other Council’s in its engagement regarding the setting of a budget. She questioned how the budget could be scrutinised and consulted at the Council. She asked that the Committee engage in governance matters relating to the budget process. She also raised consultation on the Constitution for residents.
This report is to appraise the Audit & Governance Committee of progress being made against the Action Plan prepared in response to the Public Interest Report.
Officers provided an update on the progress undertaken in relation to the Council’s Action Plan following the Public Interest Report. It was confirmed that the Local Government Association had been informed that the Committee had accepted its proposed scoping document and aimed to attend a meeting of the Committee in December. It was also noted that Staffing Matters and Urgency Committee had considered the Exit Strategies: Guidance on the use of Settlement Agreements Including Special Severance Payments and had proposed amendments to the guidance. The Committee therefore requested that the amended guidance on Exit Strategies be shared with the Chair and Vice Chair for approval.
i. Noted the progress being made against the Action Plan prepared in support of the Public Interest Report.
Reasons: The Audit & Governance Committee is required by Full Council to monitor the delivery of the Action Plan prepared in response to the Public Interest Report.
This report provides Members with updates in respect of:
· Annual Complaints Report April 2020 to March 2021
· Corporate Governance performance indicators
· Information Commissioners Office (ICO) decision notices
· Ombudsman cases from last report in July 2021 to date of this report
· Disclosure Log
· Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) inspection
The Committee received a wide ranging update on Annual Complaints Report April 2020 to March 2021, Corporate Governance performance indicators, Information Commissioners Office (ICO) decision notices, Ombudsman cases from last report in July 2021 to date of this report, Disclosure Log, and Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO) inspection. Members considered the data received and discussed the role of the 4 C’s procedure which had been introduced. Officers provided a correction to the Annual Complaints report noting the table on gender’s (page 39 of the report) final row should have specified ‘total’ in the first column and not ‘not stated.’
Members highlighted a related theme of complaints regarding a lack of communication from the Council, officers noted that the issue had been identified and was being worked on to ensure greater communication and to keep residents updated, even in cases where there was not an update to provide.
i. Noted the details contained in this report.
Reason: To ensure the Committee remain updated on the Council’s corporate governance.
As previously reported to the Committee, a cross party working group has now been established and had its first meeting on 6th October 2021. The cross party working group proposes to meet on a weekly basis (subject to Member availability) in order to assist the Committee on the review of the Constitution. Once satisfied with the amendments to the Constitution, the Audit & Governance Committee will make a recommendation that the draft Constitution be referred to a future meeting of Full Council for approval and immediate implementation. As the Committee is aware, the amendments undertaken by Audit & Governance Committee on 11th March 2020, and subsequently approved by Full Council in October 2020, have been incorporated into this revision.
The Committee confirmed it would consider several articles at the meeting which included Articles 5, 6, 9, and 11 from the proposed constitution. Members were also updated on the work of the cross party working group the Committee had requested be set up to consider several parts of the proposed constitution It was confirmed that proposed changes made by the cross party working group would come back to a meeting of this Committee for consideration prior to being considered by a meeting of Full Council.
Article 5 related to The Lord Mayor of York, the Sheriff of York And Chairing the Council. Members discussed the position carried over from the current constitution of the Deputy Sheriff. Members noted the concerns about the need for the role by the group of former sheriffs, it was also confirmed that it had been included originally due to the unavailability of a previous named sheriff which meant a interim or deputy had been named until that individual was available. The Committee agreed that the ability to name a deputy sheriff could be a value function to provide additional resilience to the Civic Party but requested that the article be worded to note that it would only be used if circumstances required.
Members also highlighted the impact of gendering roles such as Lord Mayor which could be held by people of any or no gender. It was noted that studies showed that women were less likely to pursue a role that was gendered for a man. The Committee recognised that they could not change the title of Lord Mayor so requested that clarification be linked to whenever roles which did not need to be gendered but were appeared within the document. Accessibility was raised to being able to read the document online and officers noted that work would be undertaken to ensure accessibility, it was also confirmed that officers would look to provide hyperlinks where possible to the appendices for easier reading.
Article 6 related to The Leader of the Council and the Executive. The Committee enquired to the role of an Executive Member without portfolio and whether this role needed to be specified in the article. It was confirmed that this came as part of the Leaders powers to name up to 10 Executive Members who didn’t require a specific portfolio, it was also confirmed that this was common practice in some Councils. 5.2 was raised and members requested that clarification be made that an Executive Member could only be disqualified from being a Councillor if they didn’t attend a Council meeting for 6 months not simply a meeting of the Executive.
Article 9 related to The Audit and Governance Committee. The Committee discussed the inclusion of and the role of an independent member, Members were in agreement of the benefits of independent members but recognised that there were certain meetings an independent could not participate in. Officers outlined the options of subcommittee meetings to break up the Committees workload which should make it ... view the full minutes text for item 38.
This report provides an update on the delivery of the internal audit work programme for 2021/22 and on counter fraud activity undertaken so far in the year.
The committee received a update on the work of internal audit and counter fraud as outlined in the annexes to the report. Discussion took place regarding the list of current priorities for current internal audit work, it was confirmed that internal audit would aim to cover each area prior to the end of year, but noted that some had been added to this years list from last year due to the impact of Covid on services.
Members enquired about the process for determining when a audit should take place and the benefits of unannounced audits verse those that a department was prepared for. It was confirmed that internal audit aimed to work with managers to improve services through the auditing process and so a collaborative practice was seen across the industry, with unannounced audits only used for specific issues. It was also noted that audit attempted where possible to allow services to focus on delivery and commit to a audit at a different time in circumstances such as staff absence or a new computer system. Members enquired about senior staff requests for audits and it was confirmed that this was often requested to seek a source of assurance that a service is performing well.
i. Noted the progress made in delivering the 2021/22 internal audit work programme, and current counter fraud activity.
Reason: To enable members to consider the implications of audit and fraud findings.
To receive a draft plan of reports currently expected to be
presented to future meetings of the Committee up to April 2022.
The Committee considered its work plan for 2021/22
i. That the Committee Work Plan be noted.
Reason: To ensure that the Committee manages its work