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Agenda item

Annual Governance Statement Update

Minutes:

The Head of Policy, Communications and Governance presented her report which provided an update on the progress made against the Action Plan for 2020/21 contained in the Annual Governance Statement for 2019/20 which was approved by the Committee in July 2020.  It was noted that:

 

·  The annual review of the Council’s governance arrangements had identified nine areas where additional action was required to ensure that good standards of governance are maintained.  These included managing the financial risk arising from the impact of COVID-19, short-term Brexit impacts and the capacity to deliver the investment and regeneration programme. 

 

·  Progress had been made across all areas.  For example:

 

The financial impact of COVID-19 was being monitored in parallel with regular monthly financial reporting and monthly reports were submitted to the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) setting out the impact of COVID-19 on the Council’s financial position.  The impact of COVID-19 was specifically addressed in the quarterly financial performance monitoring reports to Members.

 

Officers with emergency planning responsibilities were now meeting regularly to plan for any short-term impacts arising from a disorderly Brexit.  The Council was part of the Kent Resilience Forum and participated in its regular tactical and strategic co-ordination groups to plan for the transition.  Individual service area contingency plans had been reviewed and updated considering potential threats arising from the transition.

 

The capacity to deliver the investment and regeneration programme was a priority for the Director of Regeneration and Place.  The Regeneration and Economic Development team was leading on this work with additional staffing resources, specialist training and support from external consultants when needed.

 

In response to questions:

 

The Director of Finance and Business Improvement advised the Committee that:

 

·  In terms of managing the financial impact of COVID-19, the Council did not publish its monthly report to the MHCLG, but details of the key issues were included in the quarterly financial performance monitoring reports to the Policy and Resources Committee.  The Local Government Association also provided summaries of local authority monthly reports to the MHCLG where copies were submitted to them and this gave a flavour of how local authorities across the country were addressing the short and longer-term impacts of COVID-19.

 

·  The Council had a Contract Management Toolkit and contract managers were encouraged to have regard to the quality of contract delivery as well as financial performance as part of their monitoring.  The suggestion that the Toolkit should include guidance to the effect that every contract for products and services should include criteria by which the quality of the product or service will be judged together with a degree of financial recompense if the supplier falls short was noted.

 

The Head of Policy, Communications and Governance advised the Committee that:

 

·  As part of the work to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Data Protection legislation, a review was undertaken of the Council’s CCTV (body worn cameras and CCTV equipment which the Council maintained, managed or was responsible for).  The review was completed in February 2020 and a number of actions were identified.  Some actions were implemented at that time, but the redeployment of resources during the pandemic had impacted on the delivery of the remaining actions and these were now being addressed.

 

·  When making the Council’s CCTV footage available to a third party, a full data protection impact assessment would be undertaken, appropriate risk mitigations identified, and legal contracts put in place.  That is what happened with the new CCTV contracts bringing in external support as the Council did not have the resources in-house.

 

RESOLVED:  That the update on the progress made against the Annual Governance Statement Action Plan for 2020/21 be noted.

 

Supporting documents: