Agenda and minutes

Audit and Scrutiny Committee - Friday, 25th October, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Conference Room, Plas y Ffynnon, Cambrian Way, Brecon LD3 7HP

Contact: Julia Gruffydd 


No. Item


Correspondence pdf icon PDF 109 KB

To receive and consider the attached Schedule of Correspondence and any recommendations thereon (below).



1.     Certificate of Audit of Brecon Beacons National Park Authority’s 2019-20 Improvement Plan

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The Chair welcomed Helen Cargill and Andrea Calise to the meeting from TIAA, the Authority’s internal auditors.



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest from members relating to items on the agenda.  Members’ attention is drawn to the sheet attached to the attendance sheet and the need to record their declarations verbally and in writing, specifying the nature of the interest.


If Members have declared an interest in an item please ensure that you inform the Chair when you are leaving the room, so that this can be recorded in the minutes


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No declarations of interest were made.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 79 KB

To receive the minutes of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee held on    and to authorise the Chairman to sign them as a correct record

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RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 26 July 2019 were approved and the Chair authorised to sign them as a correct record.



Public Speaking Scheme

To give the public an opportunity to address the committee in line with the notice required under the Authority’s Public Speaking Scheme.


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There were no requests to speak.



Action Tracking pdf icon PDF 30 KB

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Members noted outstanding actions arising from meetings of the Authority and Audit and Scrutiny Committee.



Budget Performance Quarter 2 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 73 KB

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The Finance Manager presented the budget report for quarter two and advised that the budget was 54% spent and 27% committed, which was on target for this point in the year.  The project scorecard gave additional information.


Members sought clarification on a number of issues.  One member raised the issue of the use of resources for bracken cutting which he advised was not ecologically sound and there was evidence to support this.  He would raise this later in the meeting.


            RESOLVED:  That members accept the report.



Performance and Risk review - quarter 2 pdf icon PDF 27 KB

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Members considered the quarter 1 performance and risk report and noted changes to the format which they had requested at the last meeting.


A member asked for the reference to the Local Nature Partnership meeting to be amended as what was stated in the report did not happen.  He also formally asked that the Authority’s policy on bracken control be reviewed.  The Chief Executive confirmed that he would take this up.


A member felt that it was still unclear to her what the role of the committee was and what was expected of members, which was due partly to the quantity of information and partly how it was reported.  She did not need that level of detail, but also gave examples of where the level of detail was insufficient for her to scrutinise how projects were progressing.


The Chief Executive hoped that the new report format would help show the ‘golden thread’ in reporting and the level of detail needed.  The IT and Systems Manager reported on his work with Powys Public Service Board where he was seeing good practice.


On balance members concluded that they wished to continue to see all report formats as there was useful detail in each of these.




a)  To note the performance reports and ask officers to amend as outlined in the meeting;


b) That all three performance reports would continue to be presented to Audit and Scrutiny Committee in future.



Compliments/Complaints/Freedom of Information pdf icon PDF 81 KB

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The report for quarter 1 was received.



Draft annual report 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 26 KB

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The IT and Systems Manager presented the draft Annual Report which would be signed off by the Authority on 29 October. He thanked Sophie Godfrey and Emma Gray for their help with content and graphic design.


A member wondered whether the number of hours worked was a sufficient measurement for volunteers and if satisfaction should be measured.  He would be bringing a report to the Policy Forum on 22 November.


The officer was asked to reword the section relating to bracken control and the officer advised that this referred to work from 2018/19 and that things had progressed since then.


A member commented that the document could engage people more, although this was down to packaging.  There also needed to be acknowledgement of all the achievement, particularly as some of the amber scores were borderline green.


In response to a question about the apparently low number of responses to the Rights of Way Improvement Plan consultation the officer advised that these were statutory responses; over 300 responses had been received from the wider public.


A member raised the issue of stretch targets in numerical terms, which would support the golden thread concept and played to a team approach and how performance was reported.  The Chief Executive agreed that the Corporate Plan would need to change radically as a result of the change programme, and should include stretch targets.  The officer agreed that further discussion was needed on this.


A member suggested that the Authority could benchmark against other organisations.


RESOLVED:  That Members agree the submission of the report to the Authority for approval subject to any amendments agreed at the meeting.



Internal Audit update pdf icon PDF 198 KB

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Ms Cargill presented the Block 1 progress report.  She advised that while issues had been raised is relation to the cyber security audit, these were things that could be remedied very easily.


Members welcomed the report but still maintained that the Authority was audited to a level disproportionate to its size, and a comment was made that a shrinking workforce sometimes had a negative impact on audit results. The point was also made about the cost of a process that sometimes stated the obvious but there was acknowledgement that some important points were also made.


A member felt that after ten years of austerity when there had been staff changes it was important that internal audit picked up any issues that needed addressing.


The IT and Systems Manager advised members of progress against the IT audit actions, and had welcomed the useful feedback from the audit.  The Finance Manager highlighted the need to avoid complacency about internal controls, given the responsibility of the Chair and Chief Executive for signing the Annual Governance Statement each year.  The Authority neglected scrutiny of its systems at its peril, to ensure that it carried out what it said it was doing.


A member queried how important the business continuity audit was given that the Authority did not provide critical services, and Ms Cargill confirmed that the audit was based on what the Authority needed to have in place, not measured against local authorities.  The IT and Systems Manager reassured members that the audit was carried out against a matrix of prioritised functions and was not over complex.


In response to a question about first aiders and the location of defibrillators the Chief Executive advised that he and the Delivery Director had attended a Directing Safely Course and had concluded that the Health and Safety Working Group needed to be more proactive in reviewing the Authority’s policies and procedures.


RESOLVED:  That the contents of the report and outstanding management actions are accepted.



Update on Cooke and Arkwright work

Verbal update from the Chief Executive.

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The Chief Executive referred to a report commissioned by the Authority to review its land holdings.  A large number of recommendations had been made and officers were currently querying some of these and requesting more information.  They would then draw up a prioritised action list for consideration by the Policy Forum on 22 November.  A briefing for chairs would be arranged in advance of that meeting.



Other Business

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The Chair allowed the following two items of business:


1.     s6 Environment Act


The Biodiversity and Land Management Champion advised that guidance on this legislation may be available by the end of October, which would give just two months to prepare, approve and submit the Authority’s first report by the deadline of 31 December.  Given the political landscape at present, this gave him considerable concern.  The Chief Executive had not been advised of this but would take it up urgently with officers.


2.     Scrutiny


Members had some discussion about how scrutiny could be carried out in future, given that the Authority did not have the capacity for lengthy scrutiny studies.  It was suggested that the member development themed days were one opportunity to scrutinise specific projects or areas of work and to capture member interventions.  Some quite robust questions could be asked as part of this process.


The Chair of the Governance and Member Development Working Group advised that the role and scope of Audit and Scrutiny Committee had been discussed as part of the governance review and there was some confusion as to the role of the committee in terms of receiving/approving reports.  She suggested that the role of the committee be discussed on a future agenda.


The Chair felt that if people were committed to scrutiny then it would happen.  The Chief Executive advised that the Authority did not need to set a bespoke process in place as it would feed into the different ways of working;  the governance review had brought this out.