Agenda and minutes

Audit and Scrutiny Committee
Friday, 26th October, 2018 10.00 am

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

Contact: Julia Gruffydd 

Media

Items
No. Item

42/18

Correspondence

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies were noted.

 

The Chair advised that on the day of the next meeting, 1 February 2019, a workshop would be held with external and internal audit, as agreed following the last meeting. The committee meeting would move to the afternoon.  Members welcomed the opportunity to discuss the relationship with audit but felt they should prepare for the meeting. The Chief Executive advised that he had received some useful information from internal audit on a Board Assurance Framework which the Management Team would need to consider. It was agreed to hold a short meeting after the Authority meeting on 2 November.

43/18

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

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr I Rowat declared a personal interest in respect of item 13 due to being a member of the Open Spaces Society.

44/18

Minutes pdf icon PDF 136 KB

To receive the minutes of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee held on 13th July 2018  and to authorise the Chairman to sign them as a correct record

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the Audit and Scrutiny Committee held on 13 July 2018 be approved and the Chair authorised to sign them as a true record.

45/18

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.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

There were no requests to speak.

46/18

Action Tracking pdf icon PDF 54 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members reviewed outstanding actions from the Authority and Audit and Scrutiny Committee. 

47/18

Internal Audit - Verbal Update

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Finance Manager advised that the first audit block report had been presented to Management Team  and actions agreed, but this had missed the deadline for the agenda and would be presented to the next meeting of Audit and Scrutiny Committee on 1 February 2019.  She offered to circulate this to members of the committee for their information, as well as a progress report from the auditors.  A member welcomed this as he felt it would help them scope the meeting with audit.

 

The second audit block was now under way reviewing governance, internal controls and partnerships.  These would also be presented to the meeting on 1 February.  As far as the Finance Officer was aware there were no significant issues identified.

 

 

48/18

Budget Monitoring Quarter 2 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 310 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members considered the budget details for the end of quarter two.  The Finance Manager highlighted the high percentage of budget committed due to multi-year projects which showed as commitments even when not yet due.  The other factor was the delay in receiving grant payments for projects, which had had an impact on the Authority’s cashflow, although this had been mitigated by the additional funding from Welsh Government.  This would need careful monitoring in future.

 

A member wondered whether the Welsh Local Government Association could take this up with grant aiding bodies.  The Chief Executive advised that he would raise this with the Authority’s representative and also with other National Parks.  While the Authority could cover short term funding gaps through the use of Reserves he had asked the Finance Officer to keep him informed.

 

A member was relaxed about the high level of commitment but was more nervous about the cash flow and asked whether the Authority had sufficient confidence in its project management skills to reflect the emerging shape of the organisation. The Chief Executive felt that there was an acceptable level of skill but this needed to be better, and he was confident that the appointment of the Delivery Director would help with this.  He was also discussing the need to strengthen project management training.  A gantt chart had been prepared of all projects so areas could be identified where assurance was needed.

 

In response to a question the Finance Manager advised that the level of reserves was high at present and the Authority had needed to use less than anticipated this year.  A member warned that it only needed one contract to go wrong or costs to increase.

 

RESOLVED:  To note the report.

 

49/18

Performance report Q2 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The IT and Systems Manager presented the performance report for quarter two which contained a higher level of data than quarter one.  Some recommendations from the recent internal audit had already been implemented.

 

A member said that he could not support this report as it reported against process rather than outcomes and was not supported by data.  He cited landscape and biodiversity as an example where so little of the research done could be applied to policy development or actions on the ground, leaving the cost benefit calculation in doubt.  The Authority needed to be better at setting outcome based indicators.

 

A member who was new to the Authority agreed about outcomes but said that these were notoriously hard to define and it would be helpful to see the priorities highlighted.

 

The Chief Executive pointed out that the reporting was against the Authority’s Corporate Plan objectives and at present there was no mechanism for looking at the outcomes, although there was useful information in the internal audit report about how to demonstrate success.  The IT and Systems Manager took the member’s point about prioritisation but the performance was measured against actions; at this time in the year it would be expected that 50% would be completed.  He was currently having discussions with the Management Team and expected to see an improvement in definitions in next year’s Corporate Plan.

 

A member felt that the Authority needed to be in the mindset that saw the annual measures in the Corporate Plan as milestones in the delivery of longer term outcomes in the National Park Management Plan.  The officer agreed and said that looking at the measurable actions was a consequence of interim reporting but that the Authority needed to look at the ‘so what’ as well.

 

RECOMMENDATION:  To note the report.

50/18

Risk Register pdf icon PDF 45 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The IT and Systems Manager presented high level risks in line with a recommendation from the Internal Auditors and advised that further work was being done on the sources of assurance.  He expressed some reservations about the scoring which suggested a lack of control by officers, which was not the case.  Members welcomed the opportunity to contribute to a discussion but a member highlighted one omission, the lack of a comprehensive evidence base, which he felt was a significant risk in terms of the Authority’s purposes and duty.  The Authority could counter this risk by investing resources long term.  The officer referred to the Research Prospectus which was enabling the Authority to work towards achieving a better evidence base.  The member felt that this did not help delivery on the ground and reiterated the importance of procuring the necessary evidence.  The officer accepted the gaps but felt that the Research Prospectus was a way of engaging with partners as well as gathering evidence.  The Chief Executive advised that he was actively working with partners through the Mega-Catchment project in order to access data.  He was as keen as members to address the gaps in data even if more resources needed to be allocated.  The member thanked the CEO and the officer for their assurances and commitment.  He would like to have an evidence programme as a checklist to work through.

 

In response to questions the officer went through the scoring system and advised that there was a comprehensive database behind it, which was not obvious from the snapshot in the report.  There was some debate about whether it would be useful to show a pre and post mitigation score on high level risks.

 

A member highlighted the need for more explanation of the highest level risks.  The officer explained the process whereby directorate risks were identified and aggregated up to an Authority level.  Using Planning risks as an example he highlighted concerns about the personal safety of staff which had resulted in recommendations to the Management Team to set up a register of sites and individuals, using models from other authorities, including the police.  The Chief Executive advised that the risks relating to staffing levels in Enforcement were referenced in the Annual Monitoring Report to Planning, Access and Rights of Way Committee but agreed that the timescales needed review.  Referring to the risk of members overturning planning recommendations he said there was no suggestion of reducing the number of site visits but members needed to recognise that this might have an impact on determination rates.

 

RESOLVED:  To note the report.

 

 

 

51/18

Complaints and Freedom of Information pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members reviewed complaints and Freedom of Information requests.  They asked for the regular reports on compliments to be reinstated.

 

RESOLVED:  To note the reports.

52/18

Access to information

RECOMMENDATION: to exclude the press and public from the meeting

during consideration of item 25 in accordance with section 100A of the Local

Government Act 1972, as amended, on the grounds that it involves the likely

disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 12 13 and 14 of

Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:  to exclude the press and public from the meeting during consideration of item 25 in accordance with section 100A of the Local Government Act 1972, as amended, on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraphs 12 13 and 14 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972.

53/18

Other Business

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised that there was no further business and that the public part of the meeting was concluded.

54/18

Confidential Complaints Item

Minutes:

The Chair introduced John Parsons, the Deputy Monitoring Officer, who presented his report and recommendations on a longstanding and complex complaint.

 

A member had prepared some comments on the report which would be circulated to all members of the committee.

 

The Chief Executive accepted the recommendations and advised that some of these had already been implemented.  He confirmed that a report had been prepared for the Authority meeting on 2 November and members asked him to emphasise the resolution of practical issues and process, as well as discharging all the recommendations.

 

RESOLVED: 

 

a)  To note the report from the Deputy Monitoring Officer

b)  That the Chief Executive should report the matter to the Authority on 2 November 2018 setting out the actions and the cost of implementing recommendations, as well as lessons learned and improvements to process.