Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Guildhall

Contact: Committee Administration 01905 722085, 722027 

Note: To view the live broadcast go to https://www.youtube.com/user/WorcesterCityCouncil 

Media

Items
No. Item

13.

Appointment of Substitutes

Minutes:

Councillor Ali for Councillor Barnes, Councillor Bisset for Councillor Piotrowski, Councillor Shafaz Ditta for Councillor Mackay.

14.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest.

Minutes:

None.

15.

Public Participation

Up to a total of fifteen minutes can be allowed, each speaker being allocated a maximum of five minutes, for members of the public to present a petition, ask a question or comment on any item on the Agenda or within the remit of the Committee.

Minutes:

None.

16.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Of the meeting held on 21st September 2022 to be approved and signed.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 21st September 2022 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

17.

External Audit Report and Letter of Representation pdf icon PDF 218 KB

1.      That the Auditand Governance Committee consider the findings, recommendations and responses in the external auditor’s report ‘Audit Results Report – ISA (UK and Ireland) 260 for the year ended 31 March 2021’.

 

2.      That the Audit and Governance Committee reviews the proposed ‘Letter of Representation’, endorses the content and recommends approval by the Council’s statutory officers.

 

3.      That the Audit and Governance Committee approves the delegation of the approval of the final Statement of Accounts to the Chairman of this Committee and the Corporate Director – Finance and Resources.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report on the findings, recommendations, and responses in the external auditor’s report ‘Audit Results Report – ISA (UK and Ireland) 260 for the year ended 31 March 2021 attached as Appendix 1.  The key headlines from their report were highlighted at paragraph 3.2. The Head of Finance introduced the report and explained the recommendations.

 

The draft letter of representation was included as Appendix 2.  Members of the Committee were asked formally to record whether, to the best of their knowledge, they are satisfied that the letter may be signed in good faith.

 

Mr Hassan Rohimun, Ernst Young LLP, presented the external Audit Report to the Committee and highlighted the key headlines. He stated that Ernst Young would be providing an unqualified audit opinion on the Statement of Accounts. The audit work on the Value for Money had not yet been completed. However, no matters have arisen to warrant any concerns. The report identified some items that the auditors have asked to be adjusted.

 

Mr Rohimun responded to questions from Committee Members on points of clarification in the audit report.

 

The Chairman asked Mr Rohimun to provide a summary to the Committee on where the audit was now and when it was likely that the audit would be up to date.  Mr Rohimun responded accordingly for which the Chairman commented that the matter was a source of concern.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee agree to:

 

1.    note the findings, recommendations and responses in the external auditor’s report ‘Audit Results Report – ISA (UK and Ireland) 260 for the year ended 31 March 2021;’

 

2.    endorse the content of the proposed ‘Letter of Representation’ and recommend approval by the Council’s statutory officers; and

3.    approve the delegation of the approval of the final Statement of Accounts to the Chairman of this Committee and the Corporate Director – Finance and Resources.

18.

Internal Audit Progress Report 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 599 KB

That the Committee note the report.

Minutes:

The Committee considered an update report on Internal Audit’s progress towards meeting its objectives as set out in the audit plan for 2022/23. The period of reporting covered up to 28th October 2022.

 

The Head of Internal Audit Shared Service presented the report summarising the main points and responded to Committee Members questions.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee note the report.

19.

Review of Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy pdf icon PDF 208 KB

That the Committee approves the revised Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy attached at Appendix 1.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report on proposed revisions to the Council’s Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy, attached as Appendix 1. The Head of Finance presented the report and explained that the Policy was last reviewed by Committee in June 2016. Some amendments were proposed. These were considered necessary to ensure the Policy remains effective. They can be summarised as:

 

    The definition of money laundering is now included

    The option of using the Whistleblowing policy as a means of highlighting an issue has been given greater prominence in the policy

    The responsibilities of the Monitoring Officer have been added alongside those of the s151 Officer.

    Reference has been added to keeping pace with sector best practice including CIPFA guidance.

 

The Committee expressed support for the proposed revisions.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee approves the revised Anti-Fraud and Corruption Policy attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

20.

Review of Whistleblowing Policy pdf icon PDF 206 KB

That the Committee comments on the revised draft Whistleblowing Policy attached at Appendix 1 which is subject to review.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report on proposed revisions to the draft Whistleblowing Policy, attached as Appendix 1. The Corporate Director – Planning and Governance presented the report and explained that the Policy was last reviewed in 2018. A review of other local authority whistleblowing policies suggested that it has become normal practice to make the whistleblowing route open to a wider audience than employees. Some amendments were therefore proposed, in summary as follows:

 

    Widening the application of the Policy to other people including members of the public, councillors and partner organisations;

 

    Signposting to other routes for complaints or concerns which are not types of whistleblowing;

 

    Removing reference to line managers as the first port of call for whistleblowing complaints and confirming who the lead officers are;

 

    Clarifying the expectations and potential limitations around confidentiality;

 

    Strengthening the statements made about the protections and consequences of harassment or victimisation of whistleblowing (recognising that certain legal protections only apply to workers- not the general public);

 

    Changing “employee” to “worker” to more accurately reflect the legislation which protects whistleblowers.

 

The Policy would be recommended to the Personnel and General Purposes Sub-Committee for approval at its meeting on 14th December. Because of the significant governance implications of the Policy, this Committee were invited to make any comments on the Policy as a consultee in this process.

 

Committee Members expressed support for the proposed revisions.

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee approve the revised draft Whistleblowing Policy attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

21.

Constitution Review: Public Participation pdf icon PDF 199 KB

That the Committee considers the amendments to the Council’s Constitution attached at Appendix 1 and 2 relating to public participation and recommends the amendments to Council for adoption.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report on proposed amendments to the Council’s Constitution relating to public participation. The Corporate Director – Planning and Governance presented the report and explained that the Chairman had agreed to consider this report as an urgent item, at the request of Council.

 

At the Council meeting on 29th November 2022, Members had considered a Motion which proposed amendments to the Constitution intended to demonstrate that the Council values public participation at its meetings, Appendix 3 attached to the report refers. Members from across the Chamber spoke in support of the Motion but voted to refer consideration of the detail of the amendments to this Committee, in order that a subsequent recommendation on the most appropriate set of amendments could be made back to Council for formal adoption.

 

The report set out proposed amendments to the Council’s Constitution, specifically Part 4, Council Rules of Procedure, and Part 5, Committee Rules of Procedure, as highlighted in the track change in Appendix 1 and 2 attached to the report. These amendments took into account proposed revisions to the amendment which were raised at the Council meeting.

 

Committee Members suggested that the Mayor should not be obliged to respond to representations, bearing in mind the Mayor’s politically neutral role in chairing Council meetings.

 

The view was expressed that Officers would be best placed to explain Council policy. 

 

Committee Members supported submitting responses to petitions or questions to the next Council meeting, but this should be for information, not debate.

 

It was proposed and seconded that the amendments to Part 4, Council Rules of Procedure, rules 10.4.4 – 10.4.6 should be as follows:

 

10.4.4          Any petition shall be received by the Mayor, who will be obliged to acknowledge its receipt. The Mayor will delegate the formal response to the petition to an Officer. The response that has been given shall be reported to the next meeting of the Council for information only.

 

10.4.5 Any question shall be directed at the Leader of the Council, the Deputy Leader of the Council or the chair of the relevant committee who may reply orally at the meeting, or in writing following the meeting or who may decline to reply; or who may ask another Member of the Council or an Officer so to reply on their behalf. The reply that has been given shall be reported to the next meeting of the Council for information only.

 

10.4.6 No response shall be made to comments at the time, but Members of the Council shall not debate the question or petition at the meeting at which it is raised, but they may allude to them it in the course of the consideration of the a relevant item on the agenda. Any Member may request that the subject matter of the question or petition shall be brought to a future meeting of the Council or the appropriate committee, supported by a report from Officers.

 

Similar amendments were proposed to Part 5, Committee Rules of Procedure,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Any Other Business

Which in the opinion of the Chairman is of sufficient urgency as to warrant consideration.

Minutes:

None.