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Agenda item

Annual Governance Statement 2019-20 and Updated Local Code of Corporate Governance

Minutes:

The Head of Policy, Communications and Governance introduced her report setting out the Annual Governance Statement for 2019/20 and a refreshed Local Code of Corporate Governance.

 

It was noted that:

 

·  The Annual Governance Statement was a review of the Council’s governance arrangements for the last financial year.  The purpose of the review was to provide assurance that the Council’s governance arrangements are adequate and operating effectively and to identify actions which are planned to ensure effective governance in the future.

 

·  Overall, the Officers could confirm that the Council’s governance arrangements were sound and working well.  However, the review had identified additional actions to ensure that good standards of governance are maintained.  The most significant governance issues related to managing the financial risk arising from the impact of COVID-19 and this had been included in the Action Plan for 2020/21.  Other areas considered to be high risk in the Corporate Risk Register had also been included in the Action Plan; for example, the management of the Council’s contracts, short-term Brexit impacts and the capacity to deliver the investment and regeneration programme.

 

·  Progress had been made against last year’s Action Plan with a number of actions now closed for the purposes of improvement in 2020/21.

 

·  The opportunity had been taken to review and refresh the Local Code of Corporate Governance which was last fully updated in 2017.  The changes included minor amendments to update the Code, a longer introduction and an explanation of how the Council’s governance arrangements are reviewed and reported on.

 

In response to a question by a Member about progress against last year’s Action Plan, and specifically the position with regard to ongoing investment in the Lockmeadow Leisure Complex which was acquired by the Council in November 2019, the Director of Finance and Business Improvement explained that the work being undertaken at Lockmeadow was phase one of a series of improvements that potentially the Council could make.  The Capital Programme would be reviewed in the autumn and subsequent phases would be considered as part of that review.

 

Arising from comments during the discussion, the Head of Policy, Communications and Governance undertook to:

 

(a)   Make the following amendments to the Annual Governance Statement 2019/20:

 

Areas for Improvement 2020/21

 

Key Improvement Area

Lead Officer

To Be Delivered By

Ensure financial risks arising from the impact of COVID-19 are managed

Director of Finance and Business Improvement

1 March 2020

September 2020

Promoting decision making on Garden Communities ensuring information is publicly available and accessible and the role of the Council as developer versus the role as the Planning Authority is clear

Chief Executive

1 March 2021

Late September/October 2020

 

(b)  Make the following amendment to the Local Code of Corporate Governance:

 

  Principle F – Managing Risks and Performance through Robust Internal Control and Strong Public Financial Management

 

Sub Principle

Actions

Evidence

Managing Risk

We recognise that risk management is an integral part of all activities and must be considered in all aspects of decision making.

We implement robust and integrated risk management arrangements and ensure that they are working effectively.

We ensure that responsibilities for managing individual risks are clearly allocated.

 

Risk Management Framework & Guide in place and reviewed annually.

Strategic Risk Register in place and reviewed by Leadership team.

Directorate and Service level risk registers in place and reviewed monthly.

Corporate report template contains ‘risk implications’.

Audit Governance and Standards Committee reviews risks regularly twice a year.

 

 

(c)  Provide an explanation for abbreviations and acronyms the first time that they are used.

 

It was suggested that when considering capacity to deliver the investment and regeneration programme, the proposed daylighting of the River Len, an element of the redevelopment of the Len House site, should also be taken into account.

 

RESOLVED:  That subject to the amendments made during the discussion, the Annual Governance Statement for 2019/20 and the refreshed Local Code of Corporate Governance, attached as Appendices A and B respectively to the report of the Head of Policy, Communications and Governance, be approved.

 

Supporting documents: