Agenda and draft minutes

Audit Committee
Friday, 18th December, 2020 10.30 am

Venue: Remote - To be held remotely via Zoom - https://www.youtube.com/user/NottCityCouncil. View directions

Contact: Kate Morris  0115 876 4353

Items
No. Item

56.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Councillor Leslie Ayoola

Councillor Jaye Hayes

57.

Declarations of Interests

Minutes:

None

58.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 269 KB

Minutes of the meeting held on 27 November 2020, for confirmation

Minutes:

Subject to the amendment of minute 51 removing Councillor Graham Chapman from the list of members of the Risk and Assurance working group the minutes of the meeting held on 27 November 2020 were confirmed as a true record and were signed by the Chair.

59.

Work Programme and Action Log pdf icon PDF 452 KB

Minutes:

The Committee considered the Work Programme. Suggested items for bringing forward include a focused look at Nottingham City Home, Thomas Bow and EnviroEnergy.

 

The Committee noted the content of the work programme.

 

 

 

60.

Report in the Public Interest - Appointment of Councillor Directors pdf icon PDF 238 KB

Report of the Director for Legal and Governance

Minutes:

Beth Brown, Head of Legal and Governance, introduced the report focusing on the work undertaken to review the use of Councillors on company boards as a result of the Action Plan produced in response to the Public Interest Report. She highlighted the following points:

 

(a)  Committee members are invited to provide comments for inclusion in the final review due to go to the Council meeting in January 2021;

 

(b)  The review proposes a strengthening of the role of the Companies Governance Executive Sub Committee (CGESC) as shareholder, which will allow it more robust controls and a greater degree of influence over the companies strategic and policy objectives;

 

(c)  The review did not find that there was any prohibition to Councillors sitting on company boards as Directors. Where Councillors do sit as Company Directors it should further the interests and needs of the company and further consideration should be given to the use of independent Directors. Where elected members act as Company Directors they must act in the best interests of that Company;

 

(d)  Where elected members are on boards they should not participate in any Council decision in relation to the company they are a director of. Consideration is being given to whether members of the CGESC should serve on boards, whether  executive members should sit on boards where they also act as portfolio holder, and whether they should be members of committees where the responsibility of being a Company Director conflicts with being an elected member;

 

(e)  Appointments to company boards should be made in the best interest of the company, ensuring that the skill set of the Board enhances and promotes the core business of that company;

 

During discussion the following points were made:

 

(f)  In the process of the review there has been an emphasis on Councillor training. Officer training also needs to be prioritised, specifically around whistleblowing and raising concerns;

 

(g)  A further review of Council owned companies should take place into why certain companies exist. The Strategic Director of Finance confirmed that a larger piece of work reviewing all companies was underway in order to create a more robust strategy and financial stability for the companies and for the Council;

 

(h)  Further information around procurement rules specifically from Council owned companies would be useful for new committee members. Officers confirmed that this would be beneficial and that this training would be included in the Member training programme;

 

(i)  Four specific points were made and supported by other committee members:

·  Executive Board members should not serve as a member of a Board which comes within their remit as Portfolio Holders.

·  CGESC members should not be members of Company Boards as exempting themselves from discussion would not work as an overall approach to governance given the conflict of interest.

·  The role of the Portfolio Holder needs to be defined in relation to the company within their remit. There needs to be regular meetings with the shareholder representative, Portfolio Holder and the company to allow detailed conversations  ...  view the full minutes text for item 60.

61.

'No Deal' Brexit Planning pdf icon PDF 317 KB

Report of the Chief Executive and Director for Legal and Governance

Minutes:

James Rhodes, Head of Analysis and Insight, and Paul Millward, Head of Resilience, introduced the report updating the Committee on the Council’s “No Deal” Brexit planning for the end of the EU Transition period. During the presentation the following points were highlighted:

 

(a)  Reasonable worse case scenarios against service delivery and projects are being reviewed on an ongoing basis;

 

(b) Even with a trade deal some risks may develop due to regulatory changes impacting supply chains;

 

(c) Risks detailed in the presentation and in the report do not necessarily represent a “cliff edge” situation with immediate impact on 1 January 2021. Most are likely to develop gradually which allows mitigation to be put into place;

 

(d)  General risks identified by the Government include 

·  Border disruptions and supply chain disruptions.

·  Settlement scheme applications for EU Nationals – All applications must be submitted by June 2021

·  Utility supplies in terms of supply chain disruption for parts – Severn Trent Water have confirmed that there are no concerns around water treatment

·  Increase in cost of fuel and food

·  Reduction in choice of fresh fruit and vegetables.

·  Public Disorder – Local intelligence suggests there won’t be issues.

·  Medical supplies – Mitigations are in place nationally

·  Health and social care – Workforce issues have been mitigated somewhat due to Covid and the rise in unemployment as a result. Extra cost of service provision due to need for PPE, self-isolation etc. may become problematic, however local mitigation is in place

·  Economic impact on GDP potential for inflation and an increase in the cost of borrowing which may impact some projects in the City;

 

(e)  Specific local risks and mitigations include:

·  Winter Pressures on NHS and Adult Social Care – the Covid pandemic has added additional pressure to this risk. There may be increased pressure on hospitals to discharge people to care, which then puts additional pressure on Social Care services: This is being monitored and will be escalated if necessary;

·  Social Care External Market – Recruitment and retention issues: Unemployment is on the rise as a result of the impact of Covid on the economy and so more people will look to the care sector for employment. The EU Settlement scheme is being promoted. There is also a recruitment and retention campaign due to take place in January;

·  PPE – increased cost and disruption to supply chain: Department of Health and Social Care have stockpiles and the Council has around 60 days stockpile of PPE supplies;

·  Data Protection and Data sharing: UK law is robust and there would be no reason why the Council would not be granted an adequacy notice should one be required. Information sharing agreements will need to be addressed to ensure that they refer to UK law – this is a work in progress;

·  Construction sector projects and supply chains: Could impact on construction projects across the city. Supply chain disruption was tested through the first wave of the Covid pandemic and the situation is being monitored closely;

·  Development industry confidence:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 61.

62.

Exclusion of the Public

To consider excluding the public from the meeting during consideration of the remaining item(s) in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 on the basis that, having regard to all the circumstances, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information

Minutes:

The Committee decided to exclude the public from the meeting to discuss the exempt minutes of the last meeting held on 25 November 2020 in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 on the basis that, having regard to all the circumstances, the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information, as defined in Paragraph(s) 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.  The minutes are a record of the decision(s) made in private at the meeting.

 

63.

Exempt Minutes

Exempt Minutes of the meeting held on 27 November 2020, for confirmation

Minutes:

The exempt minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2020 were confirmed as a true record and were signed by the Chair.