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Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room A, Town Hall, Blackpool

Contact: Elaine Ireland  Democratic Governance Senior Adviser

Items
No. Item

1.

DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

Members are asked to declare any interests in the items under consideration and in doing so state:

 

(1) the type of interest concerned either a

 

(a)    personal interest

(b)   prejudicial interest

(c)    disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI)

 

and

 

(2) the nature of the interest concerned

 

If any Member requires advice on declarations of interests, they are advised to contact the Head of Democratic Governance in advance of the meeting.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Hugo declared a personal interest in relation to agenda item 3 Community Engagement Audit Follow-Up due to her position as trustee of the CVS Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde.

2.

MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING HELD ON 27 NOVEMBER 2019 pdf icon PDF 210 KB

To agree the minutes of the last meeting of the Audit Committee held on 27 November 2019 as a true and correct record.

Minutes:

The Committee agreed that the minutes of the meeting held on 27 November 2019 be signed by the Chairman as a true and correct record.

3.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT AUDIT FOLLOW-UP pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To consider a progress report on the recommendations made in the internal audit report of Community Engagement issued on 18 December 2018.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ms Chloe Shore, Community Engagement and Partnership Manager presented the Committee with a progress report on the recommendations made following the internal audit review of Community Engagement. The scope of the audit had been to review and assess the arrangements in place for engagement with the community across the Council’s service areas in order to assist the Community Engagement team in embedding a strategic, effective and consistent approach to engagement.

 

Ms Shore informed the Committee that a steering group had been established in order to provide departmental updates and that tracking of large ‘one off’ engagement activities would be the aim as it would be unmanageable to track the high volume of every individual engagement that occurred. When asked how the criteria for a larger activity was determined, Ms Shore clarified that this would vary between projects but that anything which would potentially generate a large amount of interest and which would affect a predetermined percentage of the community would be considered, with the Steering Group to discuss and make the final decision.

 

In relation to R1 ‘We recommend that the Council produces a Community Engagement Strategy, which should build on existing engagement mechanisms’ Ms Shore updated that whilst the initial draft of the policy had been produced, feedback was being gathered in order to inform the final version. In addition, the Committee was informed that a Members’ meeting would be held the following week in order to receive their feedback prior to finalisation of the policy. Committee Members questions how the introduction of the Community Engagement Policy had improved working practices across the Council, with Ms Shore stating that the policy had resulted in a more consistent focus and delivery across departments and that she had received positive feedback regarding the improvements.

 

A question was raised regarding R3 ‘We recommend that the Community Engagement team establishes a working link with partner organisation engagement functions to allow for better local engagement coordination, avoidance of duplication and where possible sharing of intelligence and data’. The Committee asked which external partners the team would like further involvement from, with Ms Shore responding that initial conversations had been held with the police and that further collaboration was hoped for. She further explained that she attended external meetings with key partner organisations to help prevent duplication and to share intelligence.

 

Discussion was held around the importance of informing Members of any potential community engagement activities, as well as a comprehensive directory of services which Councillors could use to direct interested constituents. Ms Shore informed the Committee that community engagement training had been offered in 2019 but that further training could be arranged if required. She went on to explain that the Steering Group had only recently been established but that the information from its meetings could be forwarded to the Members’ Support team for distribution to the relevant Councillors. Ms Shore also made it clear that Members were welcome to email her directly with any queries.

 

Further information was also sought by the Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

STRATEGIC RISK REGISTER - FAILURE TO KEEP PEOPLE SAFE pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To consider a progress report on individual risks identified in the Council’s Strategic Risk Register.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a progress report outlining the individual risks identified within the Strategic Risk – ‘Failure to Keep People Safe’, from the Council’s Strategic Risk Register.

 

Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources provided an overview of the sub-risk ‘Death or Injury to a Member of Staff’, outlining the Health and Safety systems and procedures in place. In relation to the monitoring of staff sickness levels, a question was raised on whether illness caused specifically by mental health issues was monitored and supported. Mr Thompson confirmed that sickness levels were monitored and that absences attributable to mental health issues were identified where possible, explaining that the underlying causes of illness were not always evident. Mr Neil Jack, Chief Executive further clarified that mental health awareness was addressed departmentally as well as by a Council as a whole and that early referral to Occupational Health Services was an important part of the process.

 

Assurance was sought that the maintenance of buildings under the control of the Council’s Wholly Owned Companies was as vigorously monitored as all other Council buildings. Mr Thompson verified this to be the case, explaining that property compliance audits were being implemented across all of the companies.

 

Mrs Diane Booth, Director of Children’s Services addressed the sub-risk ‘Death, Serious Injury or Harm of a Vulnerable Child’. She explained that a robust improvement plan was in place within Children’s Services which was supported by the Council’s partners. The Committee was informed that the Commissioner was satisfied with current progress and that co-working with key partners was improving. She highlighted the key risks to the effective delivery of the improvement plan as recruitment and financial limitations. The difficulties experienced nationally in the recruitment and retention of suitably experienced social care staff was discussed, with Mrs Booth outlining a number of provisions being implemented to try and address this hurdle. She added further assurance that due to the high level of scrutiny from outside bodies and the improvements being implemented across the service, the gross risk scores had decreased.

 

Mr Neil Jack, Chief Executive answered Members’ questions on the sub-risk ‘Death, Serious Injury or Harm of a Vulnerable Adult’. Mr Jack emphasised the strong links with health providers and explained that the Council’s Principal Social Worker for adults was undertaking deep dive reviews of a number of service provisions. Members were informed that examples of good practice were examined in order to assess what worked well in order that such examples could be shared and learnt from in a positive way. In response to a question on how samples were selected for the in-depth audit of three or four cases per quarter, Mr Jack explained that due to the complexity of the cases, the focus would be on the identification of areas where improvements would be beneficial or where a particular issue had been raised by providers or service-users.

 

In relation to the sub-risk ‘Death or Injury to a Member of the Public’ Mr John Blackledge, Director of Community and Environmental  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT 2018/2019 HALF-YEAR REVIEW pdf icon PDF 224 KB

To provide the Audit Committee with an update on progress made on the actions identified in the Annual Governance Statement 2018-2019.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Mark Towers, Director of Governance and Partnerships presented the Half-Year Review and explained that the Annual Governance Statement represented a review of the system of internal control within the Council, with a significant part of this being the action plan designed to further enhance the governance framework.  

 

With regards to mid-term progress, Mr Towers reported that many actions had either already been implemented or would be fully implemented by the financial year-end.

 

Committee Members sought additional information on the targeted use of social media for specific groups of residents and were informed that the Communications team would be targeting specific messages to relevant individuals in line with their interests, as well as still using more traditional forms of marketing and communication. 

 

The impact of the newly established joint working arrangements with the Department for Work and Pensions was questioned. Mrs Tracy Greenhalgh, Head of Audit and Risk advised that it was too early into the arrangements to identify direct outcomes but that she would provide a further update to the Committee at a future meeting.

 

Mr Towers advised that the Officer Good Governance Steering Group was overseeing the implementation plan. He noted that government constraints limited progression of some issues but that overall progress had been good.

6.

ANNUAL AUDIT LETTER 2018/2019 pdf icon PDF 200 KB

To consider the Annual Audit Letter on the 2018/2019 External Audit.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Mr Nick Rayner, Senior Manager, Deloitte presented the Annual Audit Letter 2018/2019. In response Mr Thompson raised the Council’s query over the proposed fee increase submitted within the report. Following discussion the Committee agreed that a Task and Finish group should be established, comprising of suitable Council Officers, representatives from Deloitte and a selection of Members from the Audit Committee in order to consider the matter of the increased fee. The findings of the group would come before the Audit Committee at its meeting on 30 April 2020.

7.

AOB

Minutes:

Councillor Galley informed the Committee that Ms Yvonne Russell would be standing down from her role as Independent Member with immediate effect. He extended the Committee’s thanks to Ms Russell for her valuable contribution to the work of the Committee, over a near two and a half year period.

 

8.

DATE OF NEXT MEETING

To note the date and time of the next meeting of the Committee as 12 March 2020, commencing at 6pm.

Minutes:

The date and time of the next meeting of the Committee was noted as 12 March 2020, commencing at 6pm.