Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, High Street, Maidstone. View directions

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


It was noted that apologies for absence had been received from Councillors Butcher (Parish Representative), Butler and Clark.  In addition, Councillor Vizzard was on his way to the meeting, but had been delayed.


In the event, Councillor Vizzard arrived after the meeting was closed by the Chairman.



Notification of Substitute Members


It was noted that Councillor Round was substituting for Councillor Butler.



Notification of Visiting Members


Councillor Mrs Blackmore indicated her possible wish to speak on both reports on the agenda.


Councillor Sargeant attended the meeting as an observer.



Disclosures by Members and Officers


There were no disclosures by Members or Officers.



Disclosures of Lobbying


There were no disclosures of lobbying.



Exempt Items


RESOLVED:  That the items on the agenda be taken in public as proposed.



Minutes of the meeting held on 20 July 2015 pdf icon PDF 75 KB


RESOLVED:  That the Minutes of the meeting held on 20 July 2015 be approved as a correct record and signed.



Audit, Governance & Standards Committee Member Briefings pdf icon PDF 91 KB


The Head of Audit Partnership submitted a report setting out a proposed programme of Member briefings aligned to the Committee’s wider terms of reference.  It was noted that:


·  The themes and topics within the briefing programme coincided with significant reports and decisions mandated to the Committee through its annual work programme and the briefings were designed to run alongside and not replace any more in-depth or detailed training sessions that might be offered to or requested by Members in helping them to fulfil their duties.


·  There were no additional costs associated with the proposed programme as the briefings would be arranged in-house, drawing on the expertise and professional experience of the Officers.  However, the opportunity could be taken to draw in external contributions, and the Council’s External Auditor, Grant Thornton, was willing to be involved.  Any briefings or proposed briefings that required additional expense would be considered separately on a case by case basis, but at present no such sessions were proposed.


In response to questions by Members, the Head of Audit Partnership explained that it was proposed that the briefings take the same format as that established in 2014/15 with sessions being held immediately prior to meetings of the Committee and lasting approximately 45 minutes, with 20-30 minutes for the presentation followed by questions/discussion.  If Members wanted more in-depth knowledge of particular topics, then separate training sessions could be arranged.


The Committee felt that the proposed programme represented a comprehensive package to address Members’ development needs.




1.  That the Member briefing programme set out in Appendix I to the report of the Head of Audit Partnership, including the proposed schedule of briefings for 2015/16, be approved.


2.  That the nature of and topics contained in the Member briefing programme be reviewed and refreshed as required.


3.  That the Head of Audit Partnership be given delegated authority, in consultation with the Chairman of the Committee, to finalise the details of the format, content and timing of individual briefings having regard to any suggestions made by other Members.


Note:  Councillors Garland and Mrs Riden (Parish Representative) entered the meeting during consideration of this report.



External Auditor's Audit Findings Report 2014/15 pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Additional documents:


The Senior Accountant (Client) introduced the report of the Head of Finance and Resources setting out the audited Statement of Accounts for 2014/15 for approval by the Committee in accordance with the amended Accounts and Audit Regulations 2011, the External Auditor’s Audit Findings Report and the Letter of Representation written by the Council to the External Auditor.  It was noted that:


·  None of the amendments to the Accounts identified during the audit process had affected the Council’s General Fund balance as at 31 March 2015.  A number of other minor changes had also been made to improve the presentation and clarity of the Statement of Accounts. 


·  The Audit Findings Report also included a review of Value for Money, and concluded that in all significant respects the Council had put in place proper arrangements to secure economy, efficiency and effectiveness in the use of its resources for the year ending 31 March 2015.


·  The External Auditor was required to provide the Value for Money conclusion based on two criteria specified by the Audit Commission.


·  To this end, a review had been undertaken of six risk areas to assess the Council’s performance against the Audit Commission’s criteria.  The assessment of each risk area was summarised using a red, amber or green rating based on the following definitions:


Green - Adequate arrangements

Amber - Adequate arrangements with areas for development

Red - Inadequate arrangements


·  Overall, the Council was rated as green across all areas reviewed.  Three residual risks were identified and rated as amber.  These risks relating to slippage in the Capital Programme, strategic financial planning and the effectiveness of services being delivered through the Mid-Kent Partnership would be revisited as part of the audit planning work for 2015/16.  Recommendations relating to these risks were included in the Action Plan, attached as Appendix A to the Audit Findings Report, together with the Management response.


·  The External Auditor intended to issue an unqualified opinion on the 2014/15 Statement of Accounts and an unqualified Value for Money conclusion.


In response to questions by Members, the Officers/representatives of the External Auditor explained that:


·  In the past, in the main, slippage had occurred in the Capital Programme due to factors outside the Council’s control.  The Capital Programme for the last few years had relied on programmes of work such as the programme of work for play areas, and sometimes projects within those programmes had not been specified as clearly as they could have been and alternative schemes were not prioritised effectively resulting in slippage.  Discussions were taking place to identify a more robust process for prioritising capital projects and delivering them within the planned timeframe to ensure the use of resources to the best effect.


·  The Council had agreed some years ago to set aside New Homes Bonus funding to part fund the implementation of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan associated with the Local Plan, but decisions had yet to be made as to where the schemes would be delivered.  The Council had also agreed to resource some  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.


Committee Work Programme 2015/16


At the request of the Chairman, the Head of Audit Partnership undertook to submit a report to the next meeting of the Committee reviewing the Council’s Whistleblowing Policy.



Duration of Meeting


6.30 p.m. to 7.40 p.m.