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To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors M Bates, R M Knight, S C Manion and L M Wright.
Appointment of Substitute Members
To note appointments of Substitute Members.
It was noted that, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 4, Councillors C A Vinson, T J Bartlett and P M Brivio had been appointed as substitute members for Councillors M Bates, R M Knight and L M Wright respectively.
To receive any declarations of interest from Members in respect of business to be transacted on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest made by Members.
To confirm the attached Minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 27 February 2023 and 16 March 2023.
The Minutes of the meetings held on 27 February 2023 and 16 March 2023 were approved as a correct record for signing by the Chairman.
To consider the attached report of the Head of Audit Partnership.
The Deputy Head of Audit Partnership presented the Quarterly Internal Audit Update report. The report included a summary of the work completed by the East Kent Audit Partnership since the last meeting of the Governance Committee.
The Deputy Head of Audit Partnership drew Members’ attention to the following:
· The audits completed and concluded, which were: Substantial Assurance (EKS – Debtors); Reasonable Assurance (Homelessness, Housing Repairs & Maintenance & Void Property and Employee Health & Safety); Reasonable/Limited Assurance (Commercial Let Properties & Concessions); Limited Assurance (GDPR Compliance with Housing); No Assurance (Car Parking & Enforcement) and an audit of Climate Change where an assurance opinion was not applicable.
· The five follow-up reviews completed and that after follow-up, Garden Waste & Recycling Income’s revised assurance level remained Limited and Phones, Mobiles and Utilities remained Reasonable/Limited. Management had provided a response within the report and at the time of follow-up, the recommendations remained outstanding.
· The number of audit days completed and that as of 31 May 2023, 20% of the audit plan was completed and they were ahead of schedule.
The Community Services Manager was present to provide an update on the actions already undertaken to address the primary findings that gave rise to the No Assurance opinion for Car Parking & Enforcement which included:
· Purchase of new mobile phones for Civil Enforcement Officers (CEOs) for use issuing Penalty Charge Notices - these were more robust being weather-proof and having longer life, replaceable batteries.
· New rest centres for staff, utilising DDC assets.
· New electric vehicles due for delivery in September for CEOs use around the district.
· New uniforms and design following consultation with staff.
· Ongoing car park audits. Regular monitoring of car parks to ensure maintenance issues were dealt with at the earliest opportunity.
· Removal of pay and display machines from car parks that had more than one machine where the machines were not taking the cash to cover the maintenance fees. Eight had been removed.
· As per the contract with Flowbird (contractor), there would be replacements of faulty, damaged, or obsolete parts of pay and display machines.
· The introduction of regular staff meetings, including welfare checks.
· The Annual Parking Report for 2021/22 had been published with the 2022/23 report due to be published imminently.
· More detailed data was being captured and analysed and included:
- the daily performance management of CEOs – reports being emailed directly to management showing number of PCNs issued allowing performance issues to be dealt with at the earliest opportunity.
- Monthly performance statistics reported to management and the portfolio holder.
- Detailed PCN data – whether paid, appealed or cancelled after appeal.
Future actions included:
· Bi-weekly budget monitoring
· A review of cash collection delivery and processing
· An increase in performance management
· A review of staff shift patterns driven by data
· Future service capacity review
· The implementation of digital visitor permits
· To explore the possibilities for digital applications
· Consistent sickness monitoring.
Members spoke to the range of issues highlighted by the parking audit and the implications of these. They were concerned that processes had not ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider the attached report of the Head of Audit Partnership.
The Head of Audit Partnership introduced the Annual Internal Audit report to the Committee which provided a summary of the work undertaken by the East Kent Audit Partnership during 2022/23 to support the annual opinion.
Members’ attention was drawn to the Overall Opinion within the report. The majority of reviews had received a substantial or reasonable assurance and there were no major areas of concern that gave rise to a qualified opinion. Having delivered 99.61% of the agreed audit plan days, sufficient work had been undertaken to support the opinion.
The Head of Audit Partnership was satisfied the Council had complied with Corporate Governance guidance throughout the year. An assurance was placed on the aspects of the systems of control tested and in operation during 2022/23. Having a duty to make Members aware where good practice was not complied with, it was noted that a review of the Council’s Risk Management arrangements, having previously been reviewed in March 2020 and resulted with a Reasonable Assurance, was due for review as part of the 2023/24 audit plan.
Assurances were provided by the Head of Finance and Investment that work was being carried out to bring VAT claims up to date. External staff had been employed and the £3m repayment due to the Council did not affect the financial position of the Council due to this being a debtor on the accounts – a payment owed to the Council.
Members thanked East Kent Audit Partnership for their consistent high-quality work.
RESOLVED: (a) That Members noted the Opinion of the Head of Audit Partnership.
(b) That Members noted the Annual Report detailing the work of the East Kent Audit Partnership and its performance to underpin the 2022/23 opinion.