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Agenda item


To consider a progress report on the recommendations made in the internal audit report relating to Wholly Owned Companies Leases, Asset Registers, Contracts and Operating Agreements issued on the 28 November 2022.


Mr Steve Thompson, Director of Resources, presented a follow-up report on progress against recommendations made by the internal audit of Wholly-Owned Companies Leases, Asset Registers, Contracts and Operating Agreements. He advised that the audit had been undertaken to ensure consistency across the Council’s company group and maintain oversight of their operations.



The Committee noted that Recommendation One showed that succession planning meetings were being held by Wholly-Owned Companies (WOC) and queried what the outcome of these had been. Mr Mark Towers, Director of Governance and Partnership, explained that these meetings were internal meetings which ensured that company Boards and Audit Committees had reassurance that succession planning was in place. He added that if changes were made to the senior leadership team at a company then the Council would be represented during the recruitment process through the Council’s Lead Office for the company.


Mr Towers also reported that it had been agreed that the Chair of the Shareholder Committee, the Council committee responsible for oversight of the WOCs, would present report to the February 2024 meeting of the Audit Committee. This report would provide assurance regarding the role of the Shareholder Committee in managing risk associated with WOCs.


The work to put in place a service level agreement (SLA) for Blackpool Entertainment Company Ltd’s (BECL) operation of the Winter Gardens was discussed. Mr Alan Cavil, Director of Communications and Regeneration in formed members that this work was ongoing but that it was expected that an SLA would be in place by 31 March 2024. It had been agreed to develop the SLA following the expiry of BECL’s lease on the Winter Gardens and that the agreement would replace the lease and allow BECL’s continued operation of the venue. This had been decided following consideration of the operation of the lease and in recognition that it was unnecessary for a WOC to operating a Council owned site and that the SLA would clarify responsibilities in respect of the Winter Gardens.


Mr Cavill also updated the Committee in respect of Recommendation Three that the only SLA not currently in place related to the operation of the Starr Gate Depot by Blackpool Transport Services Ltd (BTS). He advised that it was planned that this would be agreed and in place by the end of April 2024.


The Committee also queried the management agent agreement with Merlin for the operation of the Sandcastle Waterpark with Mr Cavil stating that discussions were ongoing regarding the long-term plans for the attraction.


Members highlighted that the target date for Recommendation Six, seeking a consistent approach for documenting the roles and responsibilities of the Council and each of the companies regarding the recording and maintenance of assets, had been pushed back from March 2024 to September 2024. Mr Towers highlighted as a new document this had been the case due to the time required to pull together the necessary documentation at each WOC, while noting that different approaches would be needed depending on the circumstance of each company. He further advised that the assurance regarding the completion of the lists would be provided to the Shareholder Committee.




1.         That the report be noted;

2.         That a report providing assurance regarding the role of the Shareholder Committee in monitoring risk at Wholly-Owned Companies would be provided to the February 2024 meeting.


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