Agenda, decisions and minutes

Governance and Audit Committee
Thursday, 17th September, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: Remote Meeting

Items
No. Item

1.

DISCLOSURES OF INTEREST

(Members Code of Conduct - Part 4A of the Constitution)

 

To receive disclosures of interests from members and co-opted members on matters to be considered at the meeting. The disclosure must include the nature of the interest.

 

An interest must also be disclosed in the meeting when it becomes apparent to the member during the meeting.

 

Notes:

 

(1)       Members may remain in the meeting and take part fully in discussion and voting unless the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest or an interest which the Member feels would call into question their compliance with the wider principles set out in the Code of Conduct.  Disclosable pecuniary interests relate to the Member concerned or their spouse/partner.

 

(2)       Members in arrears of Council Tax by more than two months must not vote in decisions on, or which might affect, budget calculations, and must disclose at the meeting that this restriction applies to them.  A failure to comply with these requirements is a criminal offence under section 106 of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. 

 

(3)       Members are also welcome to disclose interests which are not disclosable pecuniary interests but which they consider should be made in the interest of clarity.

 

(4)       Officers must disclose interests in accordance with Council Standing Order 44.

 

Minutes:

In the interests of transparency all those who were Members of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund disclosed an interest.

 

Action:  City Solicitor

 

2.

INSPECTION OF REPORTS AND BACKGROUND PAPERS

(Access to Information Procedure Rules – Part 3B of the Constitution)

 

Reports and background papers for agenda items may be inspected by contacting the person shown after each agenda item.  Certain reports and background papers may be restricted. 

 

Any request to remove the restriction on a report or background paper should be made to the relevant Strategic Director or Assistant Director whose name is shown on the front page of the report. 

 

If that request is refused, there is a right of appeal to this meeting. 

 

Please contact the officer shown below in advance of the meeting if you wish to appeal. 

 

(Adrian Tumber  - 07970 412150)

 

Minutes:

There were no appeals submitted by the public to review decisions to restrict documents.

 

3.

COUNCIL MEETINGS CORONAVIRUS GOVERNANCE REVIEW - UPDATE pdf icon PDF 90 KB

The report of the City Solicitor (Document “H”) presents an update on delivering meetings in the democratic decision making structure following the meeting of Full Council held on 8 September 2020.

 

Recommended –

 

That the report be noted.

 

                                                                        (Adrian Tumber – 07970 412150)

Minutes:

The report of the City Solicitor (Document “H”) presented an update on delivering meetings in the democratic decision making structure following the meeting of Full Council held on 8 September 2020.

 

It was reported that the delivery of the remote Extraordinary meeting of Council necessitated considerable preparation. This included a preparatory session for the Lord Mayor; two preparatory sessions for all Members of Council and individual support provided for Members by the Council’s IT Service.

 

Members were informed that a feature of the Extraordinary meeting of Council was the first use by this Council of electronic voting. Officers supporting the meeting were able to monitor the electronic voting to ensure that it was working correctly.

 

It was reported that the Council’s IT Service provided exemplary support to Members in the preparation for the Extraordinary meeting of Council supporting councillors with any connectivity issues both before and during the meeting.

 

As requested at the last meeting of this Committee Public-i did hold data on both those who were viewing live streams as committee/panel meetings were taking place and those who view the archive recordings of those meetings.

A snapshot of the data for the four week period ending 24 August 2020 was detailed at paragraph 4.1 of the report. It was clear that the public were accessing meetings in the Council’s decision making structure in larger numbers through the meetings being held remotely.

 

It was reported that two further meetings of the Council were planned for November to consider devolution and February to consider the budget.

In response to a Members question in relation to the number of Councillors that actually attended and how many voted it was reported that there was evidence that the number of Councillors who participated in the voting was 78, 6 Councillors were absent, not clear why 6 Councillors did not participate in the vote.

 

A Member commented that a full debate could not take place at a remote meeting. In response it was reported that pre arranged speakers does take place at ordinary meetings and would be something that needed looking into for remote meetings as it was not straight forward.

 

It was suggested that as the first Council meeting held remotely was successful could consideration be given to resuming ordinary Council meetings remotely as other authorities did. In response it was reported that ordinary meetings of Council and how other authorities conducted their business remotely was being monitored but there would be technological challenges of delivering Member Question Time.

 

There was a suggestion that the way members voted ie for or against should have been announced.

 

The  Chair emphasised the excellent service provided by IT and Governance Officers but it was crucial that all  Members became IT literate which would enable them to undertake remote meetings successfully.

 

Resolved-

 

That the report be noted.

 

                                                           

4.

CORPORATE INVESTIGATIONS UNIT - ANNUAL PERFORMANCE INFORMATION pdf icon PDF 194 KB

The purpose of the report of the Director of Finance and IT (Document “I”) is to present the annual performance information, as required by the Committee, and to provide assurance that the Council’s counter fraud arrangements are effective.

 

Recommended –

 

That the Committee notes the performance information contained within this report.

 

                        (Tracey Banfield / Harry Singh - 01274 434794/437256)

 

Minutes:

The purpose of the report of the Director of Finance and IT (Document “I”) was to present the annual performance information, as required by the Committee, and to provide assurance that the Council’s counter fraud arrangements were effective.

 

The Chair thanked the Corporate Investigation Unit in the work it does in the prevention and detection of fraud.

Members sought further clarification in relation to various aspects of the report.

In response to a Members question it was reported that the Unit did not get involved in the recovery stage and could take number of years before the money is paid back to the Council but the recovery of the monies was actively chased.

It was reported that there had been cases of fraud relating to the Covid 19 grants paid out which would be detailed in a future report to the Committee. Officers were actively seeking recovery of such monies.

 In response to a Members question it was reported that in addition to carrying out reactive investigations in response to referrals received the Corporate Investigation Unit also carried out investigations proactively, for example, the team worked with Parking Services Officers on Disabled Persons Blue Badge “action days”. These action days were to ensure that badges were being used correctly and were a tool to obtain intelligence on persistent misuse, for responding to citizen complaints of misuse and targeting of hotspots where misuse/abuse was known to take place.

 

During 2019/20, 16 “action days” took place, where up to 800 badges on display were examined and verified and 30 investigations into misuse/abuse were launched.

 

The Chair emphasised the importance of protecting the public purse and the prevention and detection of fraud at a time when the Council was financially struggling and that the financial support was meant for people suffering hardship.

 

Resolved-

 

That the performance information contained within Document “I” be noted.

 

                                                                       

5.

INTERNAL AUDIT ANNUAL REPORT 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 292 KB

The report of the Director of Finance and IT (Document “J”) reviews the service Internal Audit has provided to the Council during the financial year 2019/20.

 

Recommended –

 

That the Committee recognises and supports the work carried out by Internal Audit during 2019/20.

 

                                                                        (Mark St Romaine – 01274 432888)

Minutes:

The report of the Director of Finance and IT (Document “J”) reviewed the service Internal Audit had provided to the Council during the financial year 2019/20.

 

In response to a Members question it was reported that in relation to paragraph 2.2 of the report 70 – 75 % of controls satisfied was not a concern and the level would be kept under review.

 

 In relation to paragraph 2.9 of the report Members stressed the importance of Internal Audit continuing to keep an oversight of the Schools Financial Value Standards and the outstanding returns. In response it was reported that this would be looked at and further information would be provided in the half year internal audit report which was due back to the Committee in January.

 

Resolved-

 

That the work undertaken by Internal Audit during 2019/20 be recognised and supported.

 

                                                                       

6.

MINUTES OF THE WEST YORKSHIRE PENSION FUND (WYPF) LOCAL PENSION BOARD MEETINGS HELD ON 24 MARCH 2020 AND 23 JUNE 2020 pdf icon PDF 78 KB

The role of the Pension Board, as defined by sections 5(1) and (2) of the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 is to assist the Council as Scheme Manager in ensuring the effective and efficient governance and administration of the LGPS.

 

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (the Council), as Scheme Manager, as defined under section 4 of the Public Service Pensions Act 2013, has delegated legal and strategic responsibility for West Yorkshire Pension Fund (WYPF) to the Governance and Audit Committee.

 

The minutes of the WYPF Pension Board meeting are submitted to this Committee (Document “K”).

 

Recommended –

 

The minutes of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund Pension Board meetings held on 24 March 2020 and 23 June 2020 be considered.

 

                                                            (Caroline Blackburn - 01274 434523)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The role of the Pension Board, as defined by sections 5(1) and (2) of the Public Service Pensions Act 2013 was to assist the Council as Scheme Manager in ensuring the effective and efficient governance and administration of the LGPS.

 

City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council (the Council), as Scheme Manager, as defined under section 4 of the Public Service Pensions Act 2013, had delegated legal and strategic responsibility for West Yorkshire Pension Fund (WYPF) to the Governance and Audit Committee.

 

The minutes of the WYPF Pension Board meeting were submitted to this Committee (Document “K”).

 

In response to a Members question it was reported that the effects of the Covid -19 pandemic was now included as a risk in the West Yorkshire Pension Fund Risk Register.

 

The West Yorkshire Pension Fund Director confirmed that business continuity arrangements were in place for both the administrative and investment side of the pension fund.

 

Resolved-

 

That the minutes of the West Yorkshire Pension Fund Board meetings held on 24 March 2020 and 23 June 2020 were considered.