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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Rooms A and B, Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood

Contact: Allan Siao Ming Witherick  020 8207 7806

Items
No. Item

156.

Membership

To receive details of any change in Membership of this Committee notified since the agenda was printed.

Minutes:

Councillor C Kelly substituted for Councillor C Barker.

157.

Communications and Apologies for Absence

(a) Communications (if any) relating to business on the agenda.

(b) Apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor C Barker.

Apologies for lateness had been received in advance from Councillors P Hodgson-Jones and S Hodgson-Jones.

 

Due to the availability of Officers the Chair, with the agreement of the Committee, moved Item 7 Update on Anti-Fraud Plan 2018/19 - Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS) to be held after Item 4 Minutes.

[During the following item Councillors P Hodgson-Jones and S Hodgson-Jones arrived at 19:34.]

158.

Declarations of Interest

Members are required to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests they or their spouse/partner have in any matter which is to be considered at this meeting.  Members must also declare any other pecuniary or non-pecuniary interests they have in any matter to be considered at this meeting. The responsibility for declaring an interest rests solely with the member concerned.

 

Members must clearly state to the meeting the existence and nature of any disclosable pecuniary interest, other pecuniary interest or non-pecuniary interest and the agenda item(s) to which it/they apply.

 

Disclosable Pecuniary Interests are prescribed by the Relevant Authorities (Disclosable Pecuniary Interests) Regulations 2012 as follows;

 

Employment, office, trade, profession or vocation

 

Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

 

Sponsorship

 

Any payment or provision of any other financial benefit (other than from the relevant authority) made or provided within the relevant period in respect of any expenses incurred by a member in carrying out duties as a member, or towards your election expenses. This includes any payment or financial benefit from a trade union within the meaning of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.

 

Contracts

 

Any contract which is made between the relevant person (and a body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest) and the relevant authority— (a) under which goods or services are to be provided or works are to be executed; and (b) which has not been fully discharged.

 

Land

 

Any beneficial interest in land which is within the area of the relevant authority.

 

Licences

 

Any licence (alone or jointly with others) to occupy land in the area of the relevant authority for a month or longer.

 

Corporate tenancies

 

Any tenancy where (to the member’s knowledge) - (a) the landlord is the relevant authority; and (b) the tenant is a body in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest.

 

Securities

 

Any beneficial interest in securities of a body where - (a) that body (to the member’s knowledge) has a place of business or land in the area of the relevant authority; and (b) either (i) the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body; or (ii) if the share capital of that body is of more than one class, the total nominal value of the shares of any one class in which the relevant person has a beneficial interest exceeds one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that class.

 

In cases of disclosable pecuniary interest, Members must withdraw from the meeting room while the matter is being considered.

 

Minutes:

No Members had an interest to declare in relation to the items of business on the agenda for the meeting.

159.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To confirm and sign the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 31 May 2018.

 

In accordance with the Constitution, no discussion shall take place upon the minutes, except upon their accuracy.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 31 May 2018 were confirmed and signed as a correct record.

160.

Update on Anti-Fraud Plan 2017/18 - Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS) pdf icon PDF 724 KB

This report provides details of the performance of this service against the Anti-Fraud Action Plan 2017/18.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report A/18/18 provided the Committee with details of anti-fraud performance against the Council’s 2017/18 Anti-Fraud Action Plan.

 

Members queried the investigation of Blue Badge use with regards to the potential changes in legislation as to those eligible for the permits.  Officers responded that this was focussed on deliberate misuse as this potential deprived both the true owner of the badge and access to facilities for other users. Additionally there was possible loss of income from pay and display parking to the council.

 

Members questioned whether the SAFS services covered Hertsmere Development Limited and Hertsmere Leisure Trust and Officers responded that they could procure the services but were dealt with separately from the Council system.

 

In response to a question from a Member, Officers confirmed that the council did undertake prosecutions making use of the Council’s solicitors and local authority powers.

 

RESOLVED that the work of the Shared Anti-Fraud Service in delivering the  Anti-fraud Action Plan 2017/18 be noted.

161.

External Audit Results Report 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 5 MB

The National Audit Office’s Code of Audit Practice (the Code) requires the Council’s external auditors to report to those charged with governance – the Audit Committee – on the work they have carried out to discharge their statutory audit responsibilities together with any governance issues identified. This report summarises the findings from the Ernst and Young 2017/18 audit.

Minutes:

The Council’s external auditors, Ernst & Young, submitted a report which detailed the outcome of their audit of the Council’s 2017/18 Statement of Accounts. The Associate Partner for Ernst and Young LLP (EY) reported that all work on the audit of the Council’s 2017/18 accounts was now completed in line with the shorter time scale.

 

A number of the items marked as outstanding had since been received.  For example the Elstree Film Studios audited accounts had now been submitted and the external audit report had raised no issues.  The outstanding external investment confirmations had now been received from various banks.

 

The audit had been completed with a 2% level of materiality of gross expenditure, there had been only one significant (non-material) change since the report at the end of May.

 

The External Auditor noted that the declaration of related party transactions and Members Declarations of Interests needed to be maintained to protect against conflicts of interest and potential reputational risks.  The Head of Finance & Business Services confirmed that officers had reviewed the member register of interests to determine related party transactions.

 

The downward valuation of Bushey Golf and Country Club had been noted and a review had concluded that the revaluation was correct.  It was recognised that this would change based on its potential future usage.

 

The largest significant change was to the valuation of the Pension Fund Assets. EY advised that the actual asset value had moved significantly from the estimated year-end position included in the draft statements which had been calculated at December 2017. This was a favourable change increasing the pension fund assets value by £1.408m, just below the materiality level of £1.470m. This issue had been discussed between EY and Officers and the 2017/18 Statement of Accounts had been updated to reflect the actual position.

 

Members raised concerns about whether this was appropriate as it was not consistent with previous years where estimates had always been used and accepted by external auditors. It was also not the approach taken by other external audit firms in Hertfordshire. Members also raised concern that this could impact on the earlier closedown timetable if applied in the future. The External Auditor noted that the valuation was more accurate and this position had been taken nationally by EY as the amount was significant and above tolerability within a single performance area even though it was below materiality.

 

The Corporate Director confirmed that the restatement had incurred additional cost in terms of additional officer time and actuarial fees.

 

The External Auditor finished the report by noting that in line with previous years the scale fee would remain as set with the only change being potential costs for the specialist asset valuations.  He confirmed that EY would be recommending an unqualified conclusion.

 

RESOLVED that the report of Ernst & Young detailing their unqualified opinion of Hertsmere’s 2017/18 statement of accounts, be noted.

 

 

 

 

162.

Presentation and Approval of Statement of Accounts for 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 282 KB

This report submits the Council’s Statement of Accounts 2017/18 for approval by the Committee following completion of the external audit and is to FOLLOW.

 

The main report, appendices 2,3 and 4 have been circulated as a first supplement.

 

The Hertsmere Borough Council Statement of Accounts 2017/18 has been circulated in electronic format only as a second supplement.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Interim-Financial Services Manager presented the Council’s Statement of Accounts for 2017/18 to the Committee for approval. The meeting was reminded that it had, on 31 May 2018, approved the submission of the draft 2017/18 Statement of Accounts to Ernst & Young for external audit. That audit had now been completed and that the only significant change was in relation to the Pension Fund Assets valuation just discussed in the previous item. There were no material changes to the accounts to report.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)    the audited Statement of Accounts 2017/18 (Appendix 1 to Report A/18/17), as required by the Accounts and Audit (England) Regulations 2015, be approved.

 

2)    the Letter of Representation 2017/18 (Appendix 3 to Report A/18/17) be signed by the Corporate Director (in her capacity as the Chief Finance Officer) and the Chairman of the Audit Committee and submitted to the external auditor (EY) prior to the issue of their audit opinion.

 

3)    the Corporate Director and the Chair of the Audit Committee sign the final audited Statement of Accounts and confirm that they represent a true and fair view of the Council’s financial position as at 31 March 2018 and for the year then ended.

 

4)    the contents of the Letter of Assurance provided to Ernst & Young on the 14 June 2018. (Appendix 4 to Report A/18/17) be noted.

163.

Progress Report - Shared Internal Audit Services (SIAS) pdf icon PDF 475 KB

This report provides the Committee with:

a)    the progress made by the Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS) in delivering the Council’s 2018/19 Internal Audit Plan as at 13 July 2018,

b)    changes to the 2018/19 Audit Plan,

c)    the implementation status of previously agreed audit recommendations,

d)    an update on performance management information as at 13 July 2018,

e)    the amended Internal Audit Charter.

Minutes:

The Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS) submitted a report to the Committee detailing progress made by SIAS on: delivery of the Council’s 2018/19 Internal Audit Plan as at 13 July 2018; proposed amendments to the 2018/19 Audit Plan; status of audit recommendations and an update on performance management information as at 13 July 2018.

 

The Committee was informed that 28% of Planned Days had now been completed with 6 draft reports for Planned Projects delivered.

 

In addition the amended Internal Audit Charter had been finalised.  Members were pleased to see that learning points from other authorities had been incorporated including the expansion of the stakeholder definition.

 

RESOLVED that the information contained in the Shared Internal Audit Service progress report (A/18/19) be noted and the amendments to the 2018/19 Audit Plan be approved.

164.

Annual Report - Shared Internal Audit Services (SIAS) pdf icon PDF 833 KB

The Shared Internal Audit Service Annual report provides detail on the activity of the Service in the 2017/18 financial year.

Minutes:

The Committee had before it the 2017/18 annual report from the Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS) and noted that the Service had, despite challenges, delivered 94% of days commissioned by clients in 2017/18.

 

It was noted that where possible SIAS reviewed reports from other authorities to identify potential areas for improvement which could then be shared with client authorities.  An example would be circulated after the meeting.

 

RESOLVED that the information contained in the Shared Internal Audit Service Annual report 2017/18 be noted.

165.

Treasury Management Outturn Report and Actual Prudential Indicators 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

This report provides Members with an annual review of the performance of the treasury management function including prudential indicators during 2017/18.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Officers presented the report on the Treasury Management Outturn position and prudential indicators for 2017-18 (Appendix 1) for review and scrutiny by the Committee before recommendation to full Council.

 

In presenting the report Officers noted that there had been no breaches of the Treasury Investment Strategy.  The council remained debt free but continued to monitor opportunities for example linked to the development proposals such as the loans to Hertsmere Leisure Trust and Hertsmere Development Limited. There was a favourable variance of £120,000 against the £200,000 budgeted.

 

Members queried the situation with a loan which had been secured from the Local Enterprise Partnership for works to Elstree Studios and were informed that this had already been discharged.

 

Members noted that the Fixed Rate Exposure limit of 100% and Variable Rate exposure of 75% appeared higher than would be expected in a commercial setting.  The Fixed Rate Exposure could, for example, lead to the council being locked in to the markets.  Officers responded that this was common to many local authorities due to cash flow peaks and troughs which might be short term and would review this.

 

RESOLVED that the Audit Committee, as the Council’s nominated body, recommend to Council for approving Treasury Management Annual Outturn Report and Actual Prudential Indicators 2017/18 attached at Appendix 1 and recommend this report to Council for noting.

166.

Review of Treasury Management Practices pdf icon PDF 111 KB

The Audit Committee, as the Council’s nominated body for Treasury Management, are requested to review and endorse the updated Treasury Management Practices (TMP’s) attached at Appendix 1.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Council’s Treasury Management Strategy (TMS) is required to be approved annually by the full Council and the Council are also required to receive reports on the mid-year and outturn Treasury Management position each year. In addition to the Council’s role, the Treasury Management Code of Practice requires that a responsible body such as a committee be nominated for ensuring effective scrutiny of the treasury management strategy, policies and practices.  This report set out the changes to the Council’s Treasury Management Practices (TMP’s) which are kept under constant review but do not require formal approval.

 

The Head of Finance & Business Services noted that they were currently reviewing whether to incorporate the council’s commercial ventures in to the main Treasury Management Practices or prepare a supplementary document and that this would be reported to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

Members queried whether the Treasury Management services were made available to group companies  and other organisations.  Officers responded that the facility has been used in the past and recharged to the organisations.

 

RESOLVED that the Audit Committee, as the Council’s nominated body for Treasury Management, are requested to review the updated Treasury Management Practices (TMP’s) attached at Appendix 1 and feedback any comments to the Head of Finance & Business Services.

167.

Risk Management Progress Update pdf icon PDF 247 KB

This report reviews and updates the Strategic Risks facing this Authority.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report reviewing and updating the strategic risks facing the authority.

 

The Corporate Director drew the Committee’s attention to the changes to the Strategic Risks including that the Corporate Governance Group had recommended that the Newberries Car Park Development Scheme be reinstated as a Strategic Risk in its own right.  This was on the basis that investment had already been undertaken and that there was a potential risk of not achieving a return on its investment as well as a reputational risk. Additionally the Corporate Director informed the committee that anticipated income from this project was removed from the recently approved medium term financial plan applying a prudent basis due to the income which was at risk of non-realisation of the anticipated income. The Corporate Director further added that this meant the lost funding resource from Newberries had to be found from other sources.

 

Members felt that past investment represented a sunk cost and therefore as no income or expenditure was planned it did not represent a risk.

 

The Corporate Director advised that the Strategic Risk Register was owned by the Council and that members could agree to amend this risk, however this was contrary to her own view, which, as Hertsmere’s Chief Finance Officer (s151), was that Newberries Car Park should remain in the Strategic Risk Register as a risk in its own right.

 

The Committee voted on: Removing Newberries Car Park Development Scheme from the Strategic Risk Register.

 

3 voted in favour, 1 voted against and 1 abstained.

 

RESOLVED that:

1.    The current strategic risks be noted and in particular the following amendments and additions as detailed in the report:

(a)  The withdrawal of the risk “Parking Services - new partnership arrangement” [SSG15].

(b)  The withdrawal of the risk “Transfer of verge maintenance back to HCC” [SSP09].

(c)  The new risk of “Role of elected members on Council company Boards” [SO30].

 

2.    That “Newberries Car Park Development Scheme” [SO22] should not be escalated to Strategic risk level and should remain part of the Asset Development risk.

 

3.    The annual report May 2017-May 2018 be noted.

168.

Any Other Non-Confidential Business Which the Chair Considers Urgent

In accordance with S100b(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, amended by the Access to Information Act of 1985, no urgent business may be raised unless it has been approved by the Chair.  The item and reason for urgency must be announced at the start of the meeting.

Minutes:

There was none.

169.

Dates of Future Meetings

Future meetings are scheduled to take place at 7.30pm at the Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, as follows:

·         25 October 2018

·         30 January 2019

·         30 May 2019

·         30 July 2019

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for 25 October 2018 at 7.30pm.