Agenda and draft minutes

SWT Audit and Governance Committee
Monday, 13th September, 2021 6.15 pm

Venue: The John Meikle Room - The Deane House. View directions

Contact: Andrew Randell Email: a.randell@somersetwestandtaunton.gov.uk 

Webcast: View the webcast

Items
No. Item

23.

Apologies

24.

Minutes of the previous meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee held on 26 July 2021. pdf icon PDF 143 KB

    To approve the minutes of the previous meeting of the Committee held on 26 July 2021.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    (Minutes of the meeting of the Audit and Governance Committee held on 27 July 2021 circulated with the agenda)

     

    Resolved that the minutes of the Audit and Governance Committee held on 27 July 2021 be confirmed as a correct record.

25.

Declarations of Interest

    To receive and note any declarations of disclosable pecuniary or prejudicial or personal interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.

    (The personal interests of Councillors and Clerks of Somerset County Council, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes.)

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    Members present at the meeting declared the following personal interests in their capacity as a Councillor or Clerk of a County, Town or Parish Council or any other Local Authority:-

     

    Name

    Minute No.

    Description of Interest

    Reason

    Action Taken

    Cllr L Baker

    All Items

    Cheddon Fitzpaine & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr C Booth

    All Items

    Wellington and Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke

    Cllr N Cavill

    All Items

    West Monkton

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr S Coles

    All Items

    SCC & Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr J Lloyd

    All Items

    Wellington & Sampford Arundel

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr M Peters

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr T Venner

    All Items

    Minehead

    Personal

    Spoke and Voted

    Cllr B Weston

    All Items

    Taunton Charter Trustee

    Personal

    Spoke

     

26.

Public Participation

    The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.

     

    For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker and you will be asked to speak before Councillors debate the issue.

     

    Temporary measures during the Coronavirus Pandemic

    Due to the temporary legislation (within the Coronavirus Act 2020, which allowed for use of virtual meetings) coming to an end on 6 May 2021, the council’s committee meetings will now take place in the office buildings within the John Meikle Meeting Room at the Deane House, Belvedere Road, Taunton. Unfortunately due to capacity requirements, the Chamber at West Somerset House is not able to be used at this current moment.  

     

    Following the Government guidance on measures to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19), the council meeting rooms will have very limited capacity.  With this in mind, we will only be allowing those members of the public who have registered to speak to attend the meetings in person in the office buildings, if they wish (we will still be offering to those members of the public that are not comfortable in attending, for their statements to be read out by a Governance and Democracy Case Manager).  Please can we urge all members of the public who are only interested in listening to the debate to view our live webcasts from the safety of their own home to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19). 

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    No members of the public had requested to speak on any item on the agenda.

27.

Audit and Governance Committee Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 63 KB

    To receive items and review the Forward Plan.

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    (Copy of the Audit and Governance Committee Forward Plan, circulated with the agenda).

     

    Councillors were reminded that if they had an item they wanted to add to the agenda, that they should send their requests to the Governance Team.

     

    Resolved that the Audit and Governance Committee Forward Plan be noted.

     

28.

Corporate Equalities Action Plan Update pdf icon PDF 345 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Councillors were pleased to see that there was a member briefing set up to discuss Black Lives Matter, as the same training provider had delivered a very informative session for the Working Group.

    ·       Councillors thanked the officers and councillors that had been involved in the work on the action plan.

    ·       Councillors agreed that it was an important piece of work which had a lot of legal implications for the Council.

    ·       Councillors had enjoyed being part of the Working Group and believed the composition was well represented.

    ·       Councillors stated that as we moved towards a new Unitary Authority, they wanted to ensure that the objectives were carried forward into the New Council.

    ·       Concern was raised that the objectives needed to be updated before the New Council was formed.

    The Strategy Specialist advised that it was always healthy to review the objectives and that work would be taken to the Working Group to carry out.  The objectives were flexible and could be amended, he wanted to ensure that they benefited the whole community.

    ·       Concern was raised on how accessible the democratic process was for those in protected character groups.

    ·       Councillors queried whether any progress had been made on finding a permanent site for gypsys and travellers.

    The Strategy Specialist advised that work was still in progress across the county on finding a site.

    ·       Councillors highlighted the training that had been offered to officers and wondered if all councillors would be offered the same training.

    The Strategy Specialist advised that training would be offered to councillors, but they were aware there were already a lot of sessions being offered to councillors at present.

    ·       Councillors requested that the mental health training offered to officers should be rolled out as soon as possible.

    ·       The Strategy Specialist agreed.

     

    Resolved that the Audit and Governance Committee reviewed the Action Plan and noted the progress made to date.

29.

Landlord Health and Safety Property Compliance Update Report pdf icon PDF 267 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Councillors requested clarification on whether the 18 extra electricians being brought in to assist with workload, were existing officers that would be retrained or were they new employees.

    The Assistant Director for Housing Property advised they were new employees.

    ·       Councillors queried who would monitor the quality and quantity of the work carried out.

    The Assistant Director for Housing Property advised that there was a manager, supervisor and other officers who worked together as part of a risk audit and monitored the quantity and quality of the work carried out.

    ·       Councillors queried whether the 18 extra electricians were being employed on a short-term contract.

    The Assistant Director for Housing Property advised that they were being employed through a contractor so not directly with the Council.

    ·       Councillors queried when the meeting halls would reopen.

    The Assistant Director for Housing Property advised that there was a rolling programme to reopen all the meeting halls as they require a deep clean along with PAT testing and water testing at each premises.

    ·       Councillors requested reassurance that the remedial actions listed under water testing were not related to anything that would cause concern.

    The Assistant Director for Housing Property gave councillors reassurance.

     

    Resolved that the contents of the report and progress being made in relation to landlord property safety compliance be noted.

30.

Internal Audit Plan Progress Update 2021-22 Q1 pdf icon PDF 303 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Councillors were pleased to see that action had been taken to rectify the previous issues raised relating to the Deane DLO.

    ·       Concern was raised on the limited assurance that had been given to the Health and Safety section, which mentioned lack of knowledge at member level.

    The Director of SWAP advised that a Health and Safety update should be presented to the Audit and Governance Committee, which would improve knowledge at member level.

    ·       Concern was raised on the number of advisories in the report.

    The Director of SWAP gave clarification on the advisories that had been given.

     

    Resolved that the Audit and Governance Committee noted progress made in delivery of the 2021-22 internal audit plan and significant findings since the previous update in June 2021.

31.

SWAP Internal Audit - Baseline Assessment of Maturity in relation to Fraud pdf icon PDF 303 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Councillors welcomed the push to ensure that the risk of fraud was reduced.

    ·       Councillors queried how success was measured.

    The Internal Auditor advised that measuring success was difficult, however a structure had been implemented to monitor the activity and a robust policy had been put in place to ensure the number of fraud cases were lowered.

    ·       Councillors queried when the next progress update report would be presented to the Committee.

    The Internal Auditor and Monitoring Officer advised that the next report would be brought to the Committee in 3-6 months’ time.

    ·       Councillors queried whether there were any whistleblowing investigations currently underway.

    The Monitoring Officer advised that there were a couple being investigated.

    ·       Councillors queried how Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) compared to other councils in the audit.

    The Internal Auditor advised that a baseline exercise had been completed and SWT had proved to be ‘mature’, however, there was still a little more work that needed to be carried out which could reduce the risk of fraud.

    ·       Concern was raised on the amber indicator next to the committee related risk and queried whether this was because councillors were not asking the correct type of questions at committee meetings.

    The Internal Auditor advised that lack of training on fraud risk was the main reason, along with lack of reporting the fraud activity to committee.  He further advised that it was the committee role to oversee the process and not that the committee had committed fraud.

    ·       Councillors requested to have some examples of cases added to the next report so they could understand what types of fraud were being detected.

    The Internal Auditor would include the information in a confidential appendix.

     

    Resolved that the Audit and Governance Committee noted further information provided on the Baseline Assessment of Maturity in relation to Fraud.

32.

Summary of Level 1 and 2 Internal Audit Actions pdf icon PDF 251 KB

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion, the following points were raised:-

    ·       Concern was raised on the Procurement Strategy and that it was still marked as ‘in progress’.  Councillors were aware of a lot of procurement activity and wanted assurance that the process was secure.

    The Corporate Finance Manager advised that there had been resourcing issues, which they were trying to rectify and were in the recruitment stages.

    ·       Councillors queried when the corporate training would take place on DLO invoicing and Street Scene procedures.

    The Assistant Director for Customer would report back on this once the processes had been put in pace.

    ·       The Director of SWAP reassured councillors that since the report had been written, a lot of actions had been completed and that he was happy with the outcomes.

     

    Resolved that the Audit and Governance Committee reviewed the overdue actions contained in the report and noted progress to date.