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Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Allan Siao Ming Witherick  020 8207 7806

Items
No. Item

261.

Membership

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

Minutes:

In the absence of the Chair and the Vice-Chair, Councillor D Carter opened the meeting and was confirmed as Chair for this meeting only.

 

Councillor J Graham substituted for Councillor P Hodgson-Jones.

Councillor N Susman substituted for Councillor A Sachdev.

262.

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 Councillors A Sachdev and P Hodgson-Jones.

 

As the representatives for the Shared Anti-Fraud Service had not arrived it was agreed that Item 5 would be taken last.

263.

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:

Councillor M Reeve declared a non-pecuniary interest in Elstree Film Studios (Annual Item), as a director of Elstree Film Studios Ltd (EFS Ltd) as it could arise under any of the discussions.

264.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 122 KB

To approve and sign the ATTACHED minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 30 July 2019.

 

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

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 30 July 2019 were approved and signed as a correct record.

265.

Progress Report - Shared Internal Audit Services (SIAS) pdf icon PDF 629 KB

This report provides the Committee with:

a)    the progress made by the Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS) in delivering the Council’s 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan as at 4 October 2019,

b)    changes to the 2019/20 Audit Plan,

c)    the implementation status of previously agreed audit recommendations,

d)    an update on performance management information as at 4 October 2019

Minutes:

The Shared Internal Audit Service (SIAS) submitted a report to the Committee detailing progress made by SIAS on: delivery of the Council’s 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan as at 4 October 2019; proposed amendments to the 2019/20 Audit Plan; status of audit recommendations and an update on performance management information as at 4 October 2019.

 

Two amendments to the 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan were highlighted:

·         The scope of the Payroll audit had been extended to cover additional areas and increased testing.

·         An audit of Member Allowances had been added.

Both audits would come from the contingency budget.

 

The Committee queried inclusion of a Members Allowances audit which had been assigned 8 audit plan days.  The Internal Auditor responded that this would have been added through the agreed protocols with the Council and the number of days allocated depending on the scope of the audit.  Officers agreed to confirm the background to the request and its specifications.

 

A Member questioned the situation with regards to low priority recommendations from Internal Audit reports and their progress.  The Internal Auditor noted that in accordance with good practice, only medium and high priority recommendations were reported to the Audit Committee so that Members had oversight of implementation of significant recommendations.  The status of all high priority recommendations were listed in the main part of the report as well as Appendix B and were reported to the every Committee and only removed once completed.  Medium Priority Recommendations that had not been implemented, or where no management update had been provided, were dealt with in Appendix C.

Officers confirmed that low level priorities formed part of the database of audit recommendations and that these were followed-up at officer level as set out in paragraph 2.12 of the report where Internal Audit had oversight.

For the specific issue of the Governance of Council-Owned Companies audit it was reported that time was allocated in the 2019/20 Internal Audit Plan for a formal follow-up audit.  All recommendations from this audit, including low priority recommendations, would be reviewed as part of that process.

 

The Committee highlighted that the CCTV Joint Review was a concern with some of the recommendations still awaiting implementation.  The Internal Auditor responded that Stevenage Borough Council was the lead authority, although all partner Audit Committees were being kept updated on the implementation of recommendations.  It was recommended that the Committee approach the Hertsmere Borough Council Member and Officer representatives on the CCTV Joint Executive for further assurances on the CCTV partnership.

 

The Committee queried who had provided the assurance on Cyber Security.  The Internal Auditor responded that this had been completed by the BDO IT Audit team who as part of the BDO support contract provided specialist skills and capacity when required.

 

The Committee raised the issue of non-attendance of mandatory training, and how this was dealt with by the Council.  The example of the upcoming Bribery and Corruption training and the training for Members who sat on external boards were given and a list of those  ...  view the full minutes text for item 265.

266.

Annual Audit Letter Year Ended 31 March 2018/19 (EY) pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the ATTACHED report detailing results and conclusions of the audit procedures for the year ended 31 March 2019 by the external auditors, Ernst & Young.

Minutes:

The External Auditor presented the Annual Audit Letter for the year ended 31 March 2019.  The majority of the information had been seen by the committee previously as part of the reporting of the financial statements audit.  The overall result was positive with an unqualified audit opinion and no further statutory reporting needing to be undertaken.

 

The Committee requested clarification as to whether there were any outstanding concerns with the standard areas of significant risk.  The External Auditor responded that they were satisfied with the actions being taken and this was reflected in the letter.

 

RESOLVED that the information contained in the Annual Audit Letter from Ernst & Young, the Council’s external auditors be NOTED.

267.

Treasury Management Strategy Statement and Prudential Indicators Mid-Year Review Report 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 96 KB

To consider the ATTACHED report on the Treasury Management mid-year review 2019/20, attached at Appendix 1, for recommendation to Council for information.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Officers presented the report on the Treasury Management mid-year review 2019-20 (Appendix 1) to the Committee.

 

The Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) had increased their rates for borrowing by 1% at short notice.  This would have ramifications for the financial viability of schemes where borrowing was required.

 

A Member queried whether there were opportunities to increase returns through lending.  The Head of Finance & Business Services confirmed that this was kept under regular review as part of the strategy.  The loan to InspireAll and the potential loans to Hertsmere Developments Limited were examples of this.  The priority for the Council was investing in its own services.  Every option, including borrowing to support capital investment, was assessed for each scheme to ensure that the most appropriate financial method was used.

 

RESOLVED that the Audit Committee, as the Council’s nominated body, RECOMMEND to Council for noting the Treasury Management mid-year review 2019/20 attached at Appendix 1 of A/19/30.

 

Note: This will be presented to Full Council with the annual Treasury Management Strategy towards the end of the Financial Year.

268.

Risk Management Update pdf icon PDF 154 KB

To note the ATTACHED report which 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.  “Brexit” [SO33] had been added as a new Risk with Officers reviewing the potential impacts due to the high level of uncertainty.  The likelihood around the “Business Continuity Management” [SO25] risk had been reduced as the council now had support arrangements in place with Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.

 

Questions were raised as to why “Newberries car park development” [SO22] remained at the same level of risk as “Brexit” [SO33] as the Council had taken affirmative action to resolve the issue whilst other, larger projects, were not listed.  Officers responded that the status reflected past investment in the scheme and that the Officer group would be reviewing all risks and whether this would now become part of the umbrella “Asset Development” [SO29] risk. 

 

A Member asked what was being done to tackle the risk “Collection of Housing Benefit Overpayments” [SO24]; they noted the successes which had been achieved in reducing bad debts in asset management and whether a similar tactic could be used.  The Head of Finance & Business Services confirmed that they were doing this and that there was now a downward trend.  Officers were working closely with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to reduce overpayments and to ensure that they were identified more quickly to reduce the accumulation of debt.

 

The Committee debated the links between “Supply of Affordable Social Housing & Homelessness” [SO01], “Asset Development” [SO29] and the “Local Plan” [SO31].  Officers agreed to provide Members with more detail on the “Local Plan” [SO31] risk.

 

RESOLVED that the current strategic risks be NOTED and in particular the following amendments and additions as detailed in the report:

-       The new risk of “Brexit” [SO33].

-       The reduction in likelihood of the risk of “Business Continuity Management” [SO25].

269.

Progress on Anti-Fraud Plan 2019/2020 - Shared Anti-Fraud Service (SAFS) pdf icon PDF 255 KB

To consider the ATTACHED report covering the work of the Council and the Shared Anti-Fraud Service in delivering the Anti-Fraud Plan 2019/20.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Report A/19/27 provided the Committee with details of anti-fraud performance against the Council’s Anti-Fraud Plan 2019/20.

 

The Committee noted that mandatory training had been arranged on the prevention of Bribery and Corruption.  A query was raised as to the processes in place for non-attendance and Officers agreed to report back.

 

RESOLVED that the work of the Shared Anti-Fraud Service in delivering the Anti-Fraud Plan 2019/20 be NOTED.

270.

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.

271.

Dates of Future Meetings

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

·         29 January 2020

·         27 May 2020

·         30 July 2020

Minutes:

The next meeting was scheduled for 29 January 2020 at 7.30pm.